December 9, 2010 by 8junebugs
So, my new office building is semi-rural Virginia’s answer to Rockefeller Center. The skating rink went live a day or two after Halloween. The big tree is up and the wreaths are hung. The holiday parade and tree lighting went off the day after Thanksgiving.
It’s festive as HELL up in there, is what I’m saying. G and I put up my(/our?) tree the weekend after Thanksgiving — early, for me, but welcome.
This is the third Post-Mom Christmas. I keep trying to come up with a cleverer name for that, but I think it’s probably enough, somehow, that losing her reset my counting mechanism, right? Well done, Ma, you’ve altered my personal space-time continuum!
That first year, there was no question about where I would be for Christmas. I went up to Vermont. I stayed in the house where I grew up. I took my brother to dinner on Christmas Eve and we talked about what “family Christmas” would mean to us, now that the anchor for the family celebration was gone. Did we want to try to make her kind of Christmas happen every year, or was it time to figure out what our kind of Christmas looks like?
We decided, the pair of us, that being together at Christmas once every five years would be fine. That didn’t mean we wouldn’t try to spend non-Christmas time together…just that we wouldn’t pressure each other to “go home” every freaking year, because “home” would need to be redefined, too. The home base for the Big Family Christmas (since Grand died) is now where Santa finds someone else’s family. Now, with Mom and Memere gone, there’s no central place to crash for the holiday, either. Sure, everyone’s homes are open to us, but their homes are especially full at the holidays, and they all have their own Christmas morning traditions — no one wants to disrupt that. As the most spread out branch of the family, I think our best bet for Christmas in Vermont is to rent a house…during ski/holiday season…in America’s! Snow! Playground!
Which may be a little out of our budgets from year to year.
Dad’s pretty unhappy with us for making that decision without his input. His response in 2008 was, “Well, when do we get to see you for Christmas?” where we = him and his wife. For my own complicated reasons, I’m opposed to spending Christmas with them in Atlanta. I suspect KidBrother would agree, but that’s his call.
I may have pointed out to Dad that Mom’s determination to maintain the Family Christmas Status Quo after we moved to California was a symptom of the deeper problem that eventually ended his marriage. I take that lesson very, very seriously. I love my dad and the rest of my family, but my future is my own.
Last year was my first run at staying put for Christmas, and I have to tell you, I liked it. I liked waking up in my own bed. I liked feeling a part of the local festivities. I liked sharing holidays with friends who feel like family. I really, really liked not losing two vacation days to travel. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start. A good one, I think.
I’m doing it again this year. I went ’round and ’round about it and discussed it with KidBrother and with Dad, and with G, who (with his parents) would like me to spend Christmas with him but understands I’m planning to do that, like, forever, and so is content to wait until forever starts.
This year, there’s a twist. I’ve scheduled the long-put-off ear surgery for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. G will be here for the surgery and to hold the bucket afterwards; messing about in the inner ear will mess about with my equilibrium and everyone who’s had this surgery — every. single. one. — reports at least a day or four of upchucking. (G has this face he makes every time I say, “If I puke…,” and that face is G-speak for “Oh, bless your heart, you delusional little thing.” Meh. I’m glad he’s okay with inevitable vomiting.)
We spent some of his Thanksgiving making pre- and post-surgery lists. It was, like, way romantic.
So that’s Christmas this year. Feasting with friends, finishing my thesis, and finding out how much of my hearing loss can be restored.* I’m slowly getting back into the swing of gift giving and card sending, too — I’ve been lax on both for the last two years.
And I’ll be celebrating, for all intents and purposes, the end of grad school. Graduation hinges on thesis, but classes will be over after 10 pm next Monday. Huzzah!
*More on this later, but the doctor’s confident. He’s also, apparently, a freaking rockstar.