In the midst of a Danny Ocean film festival tonight I reflected back on one of the strangest Christmas' of my life and half winced. I think we can do it better. The intentions were to make it less hectic, more of an intentional effort to keep it personal and start some new traditions for ourselves, and it fell kinda short.
We spent Christmas Eve exchanging presents with my parents...never opened presents on Christmas Eve before...probably never will again. It's just not Christmas yet, is it? No, it's not. It feels strange.
We used to spend Christmas Eve watching "Christmas Vacation at Uncle Brad and Aunt Headers house but not this year. This year they're somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico on a floating awesomefest. That was strange too.
Woke up Christmas morning in our own bed, at our own house, with a smiling, excited, happy Zoey crawling into our bed at 7AM to remind us that it was indeed Christmas morning and that Santa had in fact come. That was pretty awesome, but pretty solitary.
On the road in the afternoon and spent the remainder of that evening and overnight at Baachan and Grandad's house...without Ian...without Netta...and saving Christmas for the 30th when everyone is together. That's not really Christmas either, is it? Nope. Strange.
Boxing Day was spent in a drive-by visit with some extended family and by the time the three days were over Christmas and had came and went without ever feeling much like Christmas. It wasn't exactly the movie version of the holidays but it wasn't spawned from hellfire either. It just was, and that can be a bit of a bummer. I don't like Christmas that just kinda happens, without fanfare, without heaps of laughter and face stretching smiles. Maybe it seems ridiculous to want the movie version, maybe that's impossible, but aiming for a Merry Griswold Family Christmas is perfectly admirable isn't it? Maybe those Christmas' don't exist? Maybe we'd just better get used to Christmas being about compromises shared amongst a half dozen stakeholders but Christmas just isn't Christmas when it's shaped and twisted and molded into something other than December 25th. It just isn't, and as every conversation leads to the same end result, of that's just the way it is I lose more and more faith in the idea of it all, especially when everyone's version of an explanation ends in a shrug. Every family Christmas needs more overzealous advocates than less, I think.
This was the first Christmas in thirty years, Grandad mentioned, that the Partridge household was quiet on Christmas Eve.
This was the first Christmas morning I can remember that was spent without the cumulative excitement of a half dozen grown up versions of little kids.
This was the first Christmas spent with the complete absence of siblings.
This didn't feel much like Christmas. It felt more like just buying presents, eating food, and driving around, and that's not exactly what it's supposed to feel like. I understand that life is complicated, and for everyone, but this year felt like we were hoping for the Rose Bowl and got the Little Caesars Bowl instead...the bummer was that our season ticket holders all went to Pasadena anyway and we played in an empty stadium.
Merry Christmas? Kinda, but Pasadena is better.