This week was a (mostly very happy) blur of preparations, family, and anticipation, and then it was Christmas Eve, and then the eve after the eve – the inevitable middle-of-the-night finishing of details after the boys are asleep – and then it was Christmas. I slept nearly twelve hours last night. I woke to luminous clouds, and droplets of water suspended from the bare branches outside, and the earthy smell of the coffee Alexi brewed hours before. I felt at ease all day. I made scones; I began a couple of the books I got for Christmas (Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, M Train). For the first time in a long time, there was nothing I needed to be doing. I sat quietly and took it all in: the season’s fullness, and the intricacy of all the things that led up to it.
Every year, I put up some of the ornaments my mom, and my maternal grandmother, made, and used, when I was a kid. My boys have developed an appropriate sense of awe when they come out of their wrappings. They remember their presence year after year, and the corresponding stories of Christmases when I was a girl. They know our delicate paper doves were made by my grandmother Louise for her Christmas tree, and they know how my family flew from Alaska and then drove through barren West Texas in order to celebrate next to the tree that held those doves.
There was always a strand of chunky red bulbs that outlined the roof of my maternal grandparents’ ranch style home. The same felt stockings Grandmother Louise had made for each of her grandchildren were always hanging from the mantle, and the house was always full with all of those grandchildren and their parents. And Grandmother Louise always made gifts for each of us every year.
My dad’s family was more spread out, so the number of aunts and uncles and cousins we saw at my paternal grandmother’s, who lived 80 miles away, varied. The constant at Grandmother Lorene’s was that we knew how to be a family, together, whatever the configuration was; everything always fell into place.
My boys like waking up in their own beds Christmas morning. We have a few constants in our holiday season; other things constantly change. The given is that we know how to be a family: the four of us, and with our extended family, as we celebrate, in person, on the phone, even playing video games with cousins thousands of miles away, thanks to modern technology.
Best wishes to you and yours. xoxo