Well, here we are.
Christmas. My favorite holiday, a magical and emotional one. I love Christmas, and still do, although I have no idea how to handle it this year. I feel like Christmas and I are having a fight. We are friends, but we aren't talking to each other right now, and next year, we'll get through our differences and be closer friends than ever before. I really hope that happens.
I've been listening to the holiday music channel in the car a lot this week, and some songs are fine, but every now and again, one gets to me. I think of my sweet Daddy and how much he loved Christmas and how shitty it is that he isn't here to share it with us. I have cried at the most random of songs, but mainly the ones about being home for Christmas.
For so many of us, "home" has so many meanings, or none at all. I love that we are staying "Chicago Home" for Christmas this year, but it is hard being away from all of my wonderful family. We've been through so much together, especially in the last few years. I have a constant push/pull with wanting to be with them and needing to heal more before being around them. I know that a lot of my family reads this, so please know that I love you so very much, and I wish you a blessed holiday.
The holidays are about reflecting and thinking of your loved ones at all phases of your life. This is difficult to do, but so important, I think, to keep you grounded on who you are and what you are made of and where you are going. I think that is a lovely sentiment.
We had a Christmas tradition in the Reid house every year, wherein we couldn't go into the living room until a photo had been taken of the presents and the tree. Never being a family of early risers, Mom and Dad I think used this as a stall tactic, so they could have a more leisurely morning. I would always wake up first, at like 8 or 9, then go to Christopher's room to wake him up. We'd hang out for a bit on his bed, then we would go wake up Mom and Dad. Dad would get up and make coffee and breakfast, I would get into his spot, and Christopher would lay across the foot of the bed (it must be noted that this was our weekend ritual as well, especially Sunday mornings after we stopped going to church.) Once the picture was taken and Dad made sure we had all eaten a little something, we could start to open presents. We never rushed--we would always watch each present be opened one at a time.
Christmas Eves varied over the years. When we were young, Daniel would come over and we could open the gifts from him (which were always the coolest cause they were from The Attic Gallery.) He would then do a dramatic reading of The Agnes Letters (my favorite part--"One who means it"). So funny. When we got a little older, Dad would have to work the night shift, and he'd have to occasionally work on Christmas Eve. One year, me, Mom and Christopher all went to church, sat on the back pew, and then on the way home swung by the Domino's and got a $5 pepperoni pizza that was hot and ready. It was great. When we were in our teens, we would go to Melissa's house and exchange gifts and eat Carolyn's delicious holiday goodies.
My Dad's favorite thing about Christmas was trying to surprise my Mom with an exciting present every year. He would get so excited and giggly and he would hide little clues all over the house for her to find. I think Dad loved giving presents more to Mom that he did to us. It was always so precious, and it was a great peek at what their romantic relationship was like. So playful, generous, fun and loving.
My aunt Linda always had a Christmas open house a few weeks before Christmas. I love going to these. For one, she makes the best hot apple cider I have ever had (apple juice and Red Hots--it is my favorite) and would always have deviled eggs and delicious cookies. She had the open house last year on my brother's birthday, and I am so glad we went, cause although we weren't feeling too Christmasy, it was great to be with family in a familiar setting. And it turned out to be really fun.
Since Christopher's birthday is so close to Christmas, we often took a family vacation to New Orleans to celebrate. I loved these trips we took, and they are some of my fondest vacation memories. Christmas in New Orleans was a beautiful thing--I only hope that it still is, or it is back to a glimmer of its old glory, at least.
This year, I am very happy with where I am in my life. I have my health, my amazing husband, my loving family, my incredible friends. What more do I need? Fuzzy and I, as our gifts to each other this year, bought a beautiful painting by our friend Anne Z. Knight that I love very much. For Christmas Day, we are cooking a cassoulet and a chocolate hazelnut tart (I say "we" but it is really all Fuzzy. I am in the office typing, after all.) We also are stocked with a week's worth of wine, beer, and spirits. We might even take a walk over to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the city. The weekend should be really relaxing, with visits with friends and general hanging out. Perfection.
And with that, I say, To All A Good Night.
Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you a blessed holiday.