Today I stumbled upon pictures of our foursome from the last two Christmases at the little cottage that we rented in Cannon Beach, Oregon. I grew inexplicably misty thinking of our mini-tradition away from home; the familiarity of the Christmas-lit shops, the beauty of the wind-torn beach, the familiar pub a block down from our home away from home. Our trip back up two years ago where Sophie rode with my parents and they reported she spent half of the ride viciously giving her new stuffed animal (Goodebunny) discipline: hissing “Do you want a timeout?” in the meanest duck voice possible. The fun of the Oregon lack of salestax which allowed our $5 Christmas rules to be observed de rigueur.
For us this year, Christmas is being celebrated in an increasingly unusual fashion; never mind we are not in Oregon, we are also (for the first time in my life) without my FOO. I was sad for half a car ride (as I talked it out with my husband) until I re-oriented myself to my own little family and the projects therein. Now I feel a sense of wonderment as the holiday gently spirals out of my control and out of my plan. The plan to have a series of packages mailed out to closest friends? Derailed. Presents entirely handmade? No. A Christmas dinner complete with guests? Cancelled. I did manage (with minimal help from my spouse) to send out our homemade Christmas cards (every year, after careful selection, addition, and culling, we hover at sixty to seventy cards), our own tradition that we enjoy immensely. About half of the changes in our Christmas routine were due to my illness which put me out of the running for a solid three days (and I’m just glad no one else in my family got sick).
With an absence of Christmas precedents in effect, new activities must be planned. In that vein today ended up being beautiful, but rather exhausting. The first thing I did this morning was a (near-)three mile hike with Erica (I got to see her “new” baby to boot). As soon as I got home my husband took to a full shopping day with a friend and I found myself gifted with my children (who I am growing so familiar with as to not even contemplate alone time much anymore) to run my errands. First, the once-a-week menu planning, shopping list, and grocery (which included a large Christmas Day dinner plan) then the entireity of my family gift shopping downtown in torrential rain – half the time, with one increasingly-heavy child sleeping on my shoulder.
Christmas pajamas have been opened and donned. We have taken the drive to our town’s “Candy cane lane” to look at the lights. The stockings are up. One million presents remain to be wrapped and inserted under the tree (actual number will be reported tomorrow). Thank you baby Jesus and happy holidays, one and all!