I didn't realize this when I brought them up. Obviously. Or I would've skipped the subject all together.
Or maybe I wouldn't have. Because I really have loved hearing about your traditions-- you've given me some wonderful ideas for when I have my own future family. New PJ's every Christmas Eve is probably my favorite. (Although a new Christmas book every year is a close second.) I also love one of WP's family's traditions: each person is responsible for doing one other person's stocking. Every year I'm amazed at the thought and care and love and joy that WP puts into that stocking.
Anyway. All of this thought on the subject of traditions has made me realize how few I have. And how many I've lost. And that kinda sucks.
When I was a kid, we had traditions. I was always in charge of setting up the manger, a collection on ceramic figurines my mom painted when she was in her twenties. And at my mom's house we had a large Christmas tree on every floor, which meant three full trees to decorate, and then a couple smaller trees for good measure. And every year my grandmother made Swedish cookies, and my mom and step-dad had a big dinner on Christmas Eve. We opened presents Christmas morning, and then I went to my dad's for Christmas with his side of the family. There were always Christmas cookies and egg nog and, every now and then, caroling. Once or twice we went to church. And then we didn't anymore. And when my step-dad died, Christmas got very small-- just me, my mom, and my grandmother. And then all of my grandparents died, and that was that for the Christmas cookies. And pretty much every thing else.
And then my mom re-married, which was great for her. But meant that I was plugged awkwardly into other people's Christmas traditions. Not even plugged in, really. More like, standing there watching. (I am compelled, at this point, to briefly recount my first Christmas with my step-dad's family. They're all wonderful, and though I only see them once every year or two, I like them all very much. But they have seriously tradition-heavy holidays, including dozens of extended family members, and hours of rounds of gift opening. And on that first Christmas, my introduction to the whole clan, I sat through three hours of gift opening during which I had one gift to open-- a pretty bronze pin from my soon-to-be-step-sister. My mom got me nothing. For Christmas. Neither did anyone else, but it's hard to blame them, since they'd never met me. Which is a great way to spend Christmas, by the way, watching people you've never met open lots and lots of presents. Never occurred to my mom that the whole thing might be, y'know, kinda painful or difficult or awkward for me. But whatever. I'm over it. Clearly.)
It's hard to find your place within other people's traditions. Because they have a whole language, a whole set of common experiences, not mention a history and bond that I just won't ever share. And since I alternate Christmases with my dad's side and my mom's side, I'm not even consistently around for the holidays, so there's no real foundation for growth. I just don't fit. I'm not necessary. My presence doesn't detract, I hope, but it certainly doesn't add.
Can't say it doesn't suck.
So, on alternating years, Christmas at my dad's house is a relief. Mellow. Stress-free. Familiar. Fun. And I think it makes a difference when I'm not there.
I am SUCH a whiner. Seriously. I'm about to make myself vomit. This is what Christmas does to me. It makes me maudlin and self-pitying. Which breaks Rule 1.
ARG! I suck.
Anyway. All of this is why, a couple years ago, I decided that I was never going to be on my own for the holidays again. I knew I wasn't going to meet a guy, since that is apparently an utter impossibility for me in this lifetime. So I was going to have a kid IMMEDIATELY. Partly because the holidays are always more fun and meaningful when there are kids around. And partly because I'm just so tired of being the one who's always alone.
I'm tired of standing on my own two feet. I want someone to lean on. If I can't have that, I at least want someone who leans on me. Someone I belong to. Someone who belongs to me.
Which is not a reason to have a child.
So I didn't. I waited until I was actually ready. I waited until now.
And maybe, by next year, if I'm very, very lucky, Christmas won't be about me at all. It will be about some new little being... a new little being who will have a brand new set of pajamas every Christmas Eve, and who will settle into bed Christmas Eve night with a brand new Christmas book, and wake up Christmas morning to special stockings and caroling, and an ornament all his (or her) own...
Also, I ate a cupcake. With sugar.