It occurred to me after we returned from our almost spur-of-the-moment trip to Atlanta for Christmas (which was a lot of fun) that we may never again host Christmas/Christmas Eve in our house. It’s pretty clear that Clare won’t be returning for the holidays ever again and Andrew’s fiancé’s folks are quite invested in Christmas, so Andrew and Alex probably won’t be spending the holidays here ever again.
When I made that realization, I was really bummed. I felt sad and a little hurt. After all, we travelled to Illinois every Christmas for at least two decades even though I would have liked to create some Christmas traditions here in Bethesda with our kids.
After thinking about it though, I realized that we did make traditions in our home. It might not be on Christmas day or Christmas Eve (in fact that was a tradition in itself — having our personal Christmas after Christmas) but we still hung stockings on our mantlepiece and unwrapped presents in the morning of the day we designated our “Christmas”.
I don’t know what the future holds for subsequent Christmases — travel probably. Maybe we will go see Clare sometimes. Maybe Dean, Clare and I will rent a house somewhere warm for a Christmas someday. Maybe if A&A have children we’ll all gather wherever they are.
We had low-key Christmas holiday these past couple of weeks. Our traditions were pretty much discarded but that was okay. Andrew drove down from Pittsburgh and stayed with us for a couple of days, then left for Atlanta to spend Christmas and New Year with Alex’s family. Clare arrived on Christmas Eve (but left a few days later to hang out with friends in New York through the New Year) and Andrew returned on January 3rd. We celebrated our family Christmas Eve that night and Christmas Day the next. Clare flew home to Olympia yesterday and Andrew drives back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. The only constant was Mingus who spent three weeks with us, loving the huge windows to the deck where he could observe squirrels feasting on peanuts I set out for him.
It was great having the new kitchen and our “lodge”. Clare adopted the lodge and made it look cozy and very Clare-like. She even slept there (on the floor) two nights, but realized her bedroom had a comfortable bed. That didn’t stop her from spending her waking hours in the lodge though. The kitchen proved to be as useful as we’d hoped and we spent lots of time as a family cooking and eating in it.
That said, it is always a bit of a disruption when everyone is here and the house usually gets very messy.
It is Christmas Day afternoon and I am sitting alone in our house, nursing a cold. Dean and Clare are off on a hiking adventure, Andrew is in Atlanta with his girlfriend. I am not complaining — I do like my alone time, but looking at Facebook posts of families opening gifts is making me a little sad.
When I was young our Christmas eves were spent with the Greens. I think the family would take turns hosting everyone else for Christmas eve (I remember it at my Uncle Bud’s house, our house and my Uncle Dick’s houses. Maybe Aunt Ginny too, once she was married. The cousins would play together — and often put together a performance of some kind. I was the oldest, so I was the bossy director. When we were all very young, Santa would come. I don’t remember when that tradition ended — maybe when my Gullick cousins moved to Mississippi? I do remember we did have a Christmas eve celebration at my Uncle Bud’s the year after my grandfather died.
Stop me if I have already told this story — it is definitely possible since I like it so much…
Sometime after 1963 (the year my brother was born), my mom made a line drawing of her parents and siblings with the title Happiness is… Being together at Christmas. After my brother found it at the lake house in Wisconsin and posted a photo of it on Facebook, my Aunt Ginny said it looked just like a photo she had and surmised that my mom had traced it from the photo. The drawing is too large to have been traced from the photo, but it was definitely the inspiration.
See for yourself…
So this year they are finally all together again for Christmas — the first time since 1972 when Grandpa died. They have a lot of catching up to do.