It all starts with Black Friday.
Holiday soldiers hit the trenches and practice their Black Op skills. The mad rush for presents and parking spaces is on. There are countless trips to the food store, oven-side vigils, caroling and decorating, backaches and blisters. Tempers rise while temperatures fall. Tis the season for tithing and skyping and credit card swiping.
The mall decorations have been out since October, but I’m not fully festivous until I deck my own halls, which is usually the weekend after T-giving. I love all holidays, as evidenced by a mental scrapbook overflowing with joyous occasions surrounded by family, friends, and more food than you can shake a stick at.
Sidebar: I’d just like to say, that’s a weird expression. When I’m too much of anything, the last thing I’d want to do is shake, whether it be the pepper mill (too much food), the aspirin bottle (too much booze), or the alarm clock (too tired). Here’s another weird one: “That a boy”/”That a girl”. Typically offered as praise for an accomplishment, it rings pretty hollow. Think about it: you’ve just done something amazing, and you’re credited for your gender being what it is?
“Ooh, great job! Might I just say you’re still a male (or female)” …
“Stop, you’re making me blush.” Lame.
My holidays now are much different than when I was growing up, as is the case for most people. I for one have not gone quietly into that good night. I try clinging to routine like a child to it’s beloved blankie. It may have outlived its’ usefulness and there are probably newer ones more appealing and practical, but it’s mine… and I still want it!! (“We’ve been though alot together, haven’t we silky?”)
My wise mother once told me, “The only constant in life is change itself”. A constant pain in my ass, is what it is. Change is difficult. It’s really hard to leave the familiar behind, and forge into a brave new world. Tradition only becomes so after several cycles. Much like a favorite pair of jeans require repeated wearings to get that well-worn glove-like fit, tea needs to steep to become rich and full-bodied, and wine must age to reach it’s peak flavor. Humans are creatures of habit, and habit has to be formed over time. It’s not instant.
Technology has spoiled us with abbreviated wait times, on everything from getting a letter to cooking a meal. Have you ever clicked the ‘send & receive’ button in your email several times because you know you’ve got something coming but it hasn’t hit your inbox yet? Do you pace in front of the microwave while you wait for your instant oatmeal to cook? We’re talking seconds people… still, feels like an eternity when you’re in anticipation mode.
Sidebar 2: I seriously could not live without the nuker. Best. Invention. Ever. In fact, here’s my xmas present to ole Mikey, in poetic form. (I thought about socks, but I know from experience he doesn’t do well with them. Just ask my kids.)
I thank thee, for all the cooking thy’ve done
in daylight or moonlight, you always run
though you might burn popcorn or soggy a bun
In my eyes you’ll always be second-to-none.
I hope you don’t think I’m getting too deep
but your speedy efficiency has made people weep
they say good food doesn’t come cheap
but we always get psyched when you 3… 2… 1… *beep*!
Waiting to find comfort in something is work, and who wants more work during the holidays? I’ll just take my eggnog and sit in the corner, dreaming of bygone Christmas mornings and New Year’s eves. Until I’m interrupted with a “Mom, can you ______?” Life gives me a swift kick in the pants, and―aside from the spilled eggnog―I am filled with appreciation and understanding.
If things never changed, I would never have had children. I would never have known the unparalleled pleasure of experiencing the holidays through their eyes. Seeing my Easter bunnies juggle colorful baskets of eggs while their eager little legs tripped over each other. Watching three little blurs race around the tree, charged with excitement as they spied which packages had their name. Noting precious faces light up as they stepped into costume and truly ‘became‘ a Power Ranger or a Disney princess or a superhero. Going bleary-eyed from putting names and Hershey’s kisses on dozens of flimsy paper valentines. Staying up half the night to make a classroom-full of cupcakes because my little forget-me-tot didn’t convey they were needed until 10 pm the night before. These things changed me in the most profound and lasting ways.
In fact, for every joyous, special memory I have from my childhood, I can think of at least two that trumped it during motherhood. Even the trying, frustrating moments come rushing back, ready to unwrap like the beautiful gifts they are. Fights over who got the best candy, or who got to choose the nightly movie, or who got to sit up front with me in the car―all become treasures of immeasurable worth. The realization that my parents went through the same thing comforts and excites me, knowing I’ll get to experience a whole new level of euphoria some day as a grandmother.
Honor tradition and welcome change. The people and places and routines might shift, but the memories and associated joy forever remain. Change affords you a past, a present, and a future; form, with shadow and light. It’s the composition that gives your life richness and depth and perspective. A work of art that is not yet finished, yet somehow complete.
Merry Christmas ~ Happy Hanukkah ~
May peace, joy, goodness, and love
fill your hearts and homes.
“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe and aren’t even aware of.” ~ Ellen Goodman