Monday, December 25, 2006

So Many Christmases!

My family normally has two Christmases. My immediate family (me, the parents, & my sister) do our Christmas thing on the morning of the 25th (which is also my mom's birthday, poor mom), and then we have my mom's side of the family over for dinner. On the 26th, we have a whole OTHER Christmas at my Nanny's house (my dad's mom), with my dad's side of the family. Getting engaged makes things complicated, because yesterday I had ANOTHER Christmas, this one with the hubby's family.

Some of you may know this, some of you may not. My fiance comes from a rather privileged background, which I sometimes find fun, but often times find difficult and surreal. His parents generally spend every Christmas in the Dominican Republic (wouldn't that be nice?!), and so, they do their Christmas celebration the weekend before Christmas because they're away for the actual day. Hence, the third (although chronologically, first) Christmas celebration on the 23rd with his side of the family. This year, they're going to their new condo in Florida instead of the Dominican, but the tradition is the same. (As a side note, I love the comment that one of our friends made recently- "You do realize that buying a condo in Florida just for the fun of it is like a parallel universe for me, right?")

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about all of these Christmases. I remember being a kid and almost vibrating with excitement in my bed on Christmas Eve, desperately trying to keep my eyes shut, hoping that I would fall asleep just to make the time go faster. Now, I don't know. Obviously, I'm more disaffected, as I'm sitting here at midnight writing this post. However, I'm not sure what the real cause of it is. Is it Christmas overload? Is it too much going on? Too much commercialism? Or too little of the Santa magic that we used to have? I think it might be a bit of all of them.

I love Christmas. I always have. But what I love is the tradition. I love baking the exact same things with my mom every year, the things that she baked with her mom, using recipes in my great-grandmother's handwriting. I love eating the same turkey dinner every year, and experiencing the same sensation of twenty extremely big people crowded into my grandmother's tiny living room. (You all know how tall I am. Well, on my dad's side of the family, there is not a male under 6 feet, the tallest is going on 6 foot 8, and he's not done growing yet. Yikes!) That's what I love. But I don't feel that excitement anymore. It's like being in love- you lose the jittery butterfly feeling after awhile, and the calmer glow is great in it's own way, but you're still nostalgic sometimes for that old feeling.

How do we get that back? I know that having my own children will help. When my smallest cousins were born (Mackenzie is 6 and Connor is 4), seeing their first experiences with the wonder of Santa was almost as good as when I believed in him myself. But me having kids is a long way off (I won't finish my Ph.D. until I'm almost 30!), and my nephew is going to be too young to understand for a couple of years yet (he'll be three months old on Boxing Day). But what else? Yesterday, we all put $10 into a draw, and the person whose name got picked chose which charity the money went to. More of that would be good. And how about donating all of the leftover food to something like Second Harvest? Or giving only homemade gifts?

We'll see how the next two days go, but I think that I need to keep all of this in mind for next year. Even if I can't convince my family to cut back on the gifts (least of all Antie C. Yowza!), hopefully I can find a way to celebrate Christmas next year that makes me feel more magic and less guilt. If you've got traditions or ideas that I should post or think about, let me know. And enjoy your Christmas morning!


Purple Mangos said...

I was going to reply to you here, but then I got long-winded, so my answer to your question is on my blog. The short answer is that you should do things at Christmas that make you happy and excited. The trick is taking the time to figure out what those things are.