This is going to get a little personal today. Just warning you.
Holiday traditions are a big thing this time of year. It can be a special food, an event or a decoration that means the whole world to you. If you’re like me you’re probably stressing a little bit making sure those special traditions take place this year.
Maybe you’re also like me, in that Christmas brings back great and bad memories. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas was good at my place when I was a kid. It was just me and my mom. We’d open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Then, on Christmas morning I’d come downstairs to find one more big gift. Then we’d go to my great grandmother’s house along with my grandmother. Grandma would have excelled at being a slightly out of touch gift giver who was trying. Except the year she gave me the first four Harry Potter books. That was a win. This is balanced out by the year she gave me Duma Key. Thanks Grandma. My great grandma would give everyone money in those special holiday envelopes the banks give you if you ask. I still have the last one she gave me.
The problem is that, when I got pregnant my loving family changed. I had done something bad and deserved to be punished. That was made clear to me many times over, but never more than Christmas.
Add to this the fact that my first few days on my own weren’t great. I was in a bad relationship, broke as hell and totally suffering from depression. Bad, bad depression.
My daughter’s first Christmas was bad. I worked my ass off, scrounging together as much money as I could. I think I got like thirty bucks. Just enough to get a Shel Silverstein book, a three foot tree and a stuffed fish. After she opened all of her presents I laid down in bed and cried. I kind of didn’t stop crying for about two years.
Then all of my family moved away and left me and my daughter all alone in the state. I actually do have family around here still. They just don’t talk to me.
That left just me, with a boyfriend who wasn’t thrilled with holidays. We also weren’t in a place where we were ready to do family stuff with our kids yet. I was feeling lonely and abandoned. My seasonal depression was kicking in, hard. I was despretly trying to make my Christmas better than the Christmas my daughter was going to have with my ex. (I did win that. I know it’s not a competition, but I still won.) But I didn’t want the kids getting attached to this whole complete family thing if the boyfriend and I didn’t work out. A part of me, a really big part, didn’t want to be stuck with a guy because of kids. So we decided to not have Christmas Eve or Christmas morning together.
Instead we settled on Christmas Eve breakfast. I went out and bought breakfast at a little diner and brought it back on the bus. I brought Strawberry waffles, my step daughter had never had strawberries on a waffle.
That night, my daughter and I opened crackers and watched ‘Merry Christmas Charlie Brown’. The next morning, I made a pot of special coffee I bought my own damn self for Christmas, then watched my daughter open presents next to my brand new six foot tree. After the girls went to visit their other parents, the boyfriend and I got together and watched Bad Santa.
This Christmas will be the ninth one I’ve celebrated with the boyfriend, now the darling husband. We do Christmas Eve morning together, with my mother in law. It was my former mother in law before she moved out of town. Then we spend the day goofing around, or running around fixing little last minute things. The kids open pajamas, and sometimes a movie. Then we open crackers and watch the Santa Tracker before the kids go to bed. I wrap presents, because I love doing it and the darling husband hates it. The last thing I do is put out the St. Jude charity bears the kids get from Santa.
Christmas morning I make special coffee that I bought for my own damn self. Then we open gifts. My daughter in law goes to visit her mom, and we all goof off for the rest of the day.
The point is, I wasn’t fortunate enough to inherit heartwarming traditions. I made up some of my own, the crackers and the Christmas morning coffee. (This year I got sneek a doodle.) The best ones, though, came about all by themselves. Christmas Eve breakfast. The night of the wrapping paper. The bears from Santa. Traditions that are all ours.
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