Wow, do we get some strange looks when I say that The Kid is going to Grandmom’s over the holidays – as in, just him. (Though no one seemed to bat an eye when, last year, Husband and I went to Spain over the holidays!)
We’re not very big on Christmas and, quite frankly, the older I get, the stranger it seems. We aren’t the slightest bit religious, though I suppose at this point, it could just be seen as an end-of-year secular holiday. Still, it feels a little disingenuous when we put up the tree and the yard decorations. But I do think it’s pretty — we love to drive around to see the decorations around the city and to walk through the various neighborhoods to admire the lights. So we put up the tree, I put the Christmas wreath on the door, I burn the balsam fir and peppermint candles.
We don’t “do” Santa, either. We never have. Before my son, I had never really thought about whether or not I’d “play Santa” when I had kids. It seemed a given, because that’s just what you do. But when the time came, I realized I wasn’t into the idea. I’m honest to a fault, and the idea of faking something and telling lies about it for years just rubbed me the wrong way. (That’s not a judgement, it’s a personal preference.) I don’t bend on my morals and personal value system, either, and the consumerism and inequity wrapped up in the Santa game just doesn’t sit well with me. Telling kids to behave for the sake of getting a bunch of stuff… ick. My own fond memories of Christmas are about the decorations, the music that my mom always played while we baked cookies, dinner at my grandmother’s house, the snow… these are the things that mattered to me. I “believed” in Santa as a kid, but that’s not something that mattered to me. So we don’t do it. I had asked my husband that first year, would he be ok with skipping it? He balked for 5 seconds before remembering that Santa had never been a part of his childhood, either, and he really didn’t care. My son gets a couple of gifts from everyone, but for him, the holiday isn’t associated with getting stuff or strange men invading our house. (For what it’s worth, I told him he’s more than welcome to visit Santa any time he wants, we haven’t stopped him from participating in the tradition, if he’d like. He did ask to sit on Santa’s lap one year, so we took him to see one. He wrote a letter, with a small Christmas list, and when the time came he was too weirded out by the whole thing to actually say anything to Santa. He sat on his lap for two seconds, looked him in the face, shook his head, and hopped off. He came back to me saying, “I’m really glad you decided to leave Santa out. This is weird.”)
I keep thinking that I’ll do a “not Christmas” party at our home sometime. We’ll see, it’s very possible that I like the idea more than the doing.
I would happily see my maternal family for the holidays, but we’re all scattered now — my aunt, my uncle and cousins. My father’s side… well. So many people complain and get stressed out about seeing family over the holidays, yeah? My paternal family is all of that for me. So I made a choice not to deal with them anymore and I have never been happier. I really don’t believe in this idea that you have to stick with family because they’re family. I did not choose these people and the truth is that they’ve been pretty horrible to me over the years. My father had always said of his one brother that, “He’s difficult, but he’s always there for you.” Time and time again, this statement has been proven to be utter nonsense. They are cold, selfish people. Half of them are racist, clinging to their guns, and voted for Trump, too, so I’m just glad I cut them out loooong before the 2016 election. (Right before I moved to Prague in 2003, one uncle had said to me, “So I hear you’re leaving the country? What are you moving to, Iraq?” I mean, really. Do I need to say anything more?) As for my husband’s family… well, one of HIS uncles is busy making up wild accusations about me. What is it about uncles, anyway?
So this year, our son is making memories with Grandmom. She is his “person.” And Husband and I are going to kick back and enjoy some quality alone time, complete with a few dinners out, raunchy holiday shows, some wine, and a quiet New Year’s Eve in. I will never forget the first year that I spent NYE at home instead of going out. It was glorious and I wondered, “Why did I wait so long to stay in?” The next step was to not even bother staying up till midnight and it was EVEN BETTER.
I am so over it. All of it. Forced holidays and mass celebrations… I realize this sounds all Scrooge-like to the holiday-obsesssed or even those who are still in denial of their disinterest in partaking… but listen, we have never enjoyed the holidays more than we do now that we do it our own way (that is, just seeing it as some time off.) For so many people, these holidays bring up so much stress and trauma. It took me nearly two decades to get over an extremely traumatic event that happened between Christmas and New Year’s, when I was in my late teens. A dear friend of mine in Prague, who was 7 months pregnant with a baby she’d been wanting for years, died right before Christmas years ago. For awhile, I tried to force the issue and make a BFD over Christmas in an effort to surmount these memories. That didn’t work. But I finally moved past it and came to settle in a pretty good place where Christmas is just a normal day with the addition of pine needles dropping all over the floor and twinkly lights. If you think that sounds boring, that’s fine. Our day to day has gotten to be pleasurable enough that we don’t have to jam it all in over the “holidays”.