The past few years, I’ve taken the week before Christmas and the week of Christmas off. At first, it was because I typically traveled for the holiday, but wanted to be home in time for New Years, so I would do the brunt of my traveling prior to the holiday.
Now, when I’m not traveling, I use the time off to get into Christmas. December has become entirely too busy to do things like shop and put up a tree, so taking the week off before the holiday allows me to shut off the work and the parties and the stress and actually enjoy doing those things.
I think this habit started a couple years ago, the first year I planned on not traveling. That year, work was stressful for the first time (my boss’s mother was gravely ill, we had a major press conference that I had to step in and take over as a result) and I remember it being around December 20 before I finally stepped foot in a mall and took in all the Christmas decor. I distinctly remember this insignificant moment as the first time I was able to breathe and enjoy the holiday and remember thinking that the holiday had almost blown me by entirely. I guess I’ve informally decided to prevent that and make more room for it in my life by continuing to take the time off every year.
Except, somehow, the magic that I’ve tried to make room for and keep has instead worn off.
Sure, I start out leisurely thinking I’ll start my Christmas shopping at some point, that I’ve got all the time in the world, and then inevitably the first day of my vacay comes around and my mom reminds me that I better get started so I can ship everything that needs to be shipped in time. Flash to me sitting at my kitchen table, feverishly clicking through Amazon.com and calling my extended family in Nebraska to pick up gift cards for other extended family members.
Not as enjoyable as I remember as a kid. I guess that’s what adulthood does to ya.
It’s gotten me to think of the other things and traditions that have worn off. Like the tree. I have a little tree I put up each year, and I enjoy it when it’s up, but I’m not like my other friends who rush to put theirs up right after Thanksgiving. In my family, we didn’t search high and low for the perfect real tree, we just pulled the same fake one out of the basement each year. Today when I went to my parents, my mom didn’t even have a tree up. Sure, she’ll get it up soon, probably this week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I went home on Christmas Day and there wasn’t one.
We’ve never been big on tradition in my family. There are a couple here and there, but they mainly surround my extended family, who live in Nebraska. It’s always been just my parents and I, no extended family near by, so we don’t really do anything special when we don’t travel to see the rest of the family. 360 days out of the year this doesn’t bother me, but when I do hear about my friends baking cookies with their families, or going out to the same tree farm every year to pick the perfect tree, I do get a little wistful.
I think what it boils down to is there is a part of me that is anxious to start some traditions of my own. Except being unmarried and living alone, I don’t have a lot of motivation to do so. I’m not one to bake a million cookies, especially in my little kitchen, or mess with a real tree all by myself. But I am anxious to start a life with someone else and make our own home and our own traditions. DD and I are a little ways from that, but it’s something down the road that truly excites me.
I hate to be all doom and gloom. Honestly, my parents and I do have some traditions (like going to see a movie after dinner on Christmas Day), and DD and I are starting to make our own traditions as well. Last year, I went to midnight mass after spending Christmas Eve with his family, and then went on to my parents so I’d be there on Christmas morning. I don’t typically go to midnight mass, I typically go with my family, but this was a scheduling necessity and something I did alone. And truthfully, I enjoyed it and have decided to do the same thing this year. I think this year DD is planning to join me. So I suppose that could become our first joint holiday tradition.
And once I get done with the few gifts that have to be shipped, I will be able to enjoy the shopping and the season a bit more.
In the meantime, what are your traditions? If you’re single, what traditions have you developed for yourself? Maybe I can steal some 🙂