Six Christmases ago, when my firstborn was an infant, I put my foot down. After an emotional post-partum holiday spent at the Florida in-laws, salted with imperfectly hushed late night sobbing from both me and the baby, I told Hubby, "We are staying HOME next Christmas!" Exercising these new found rights to call the shots for our little family made me feel heady with power and relieved to eliminate much December stress. We enjoyed a few intimate holidays with no airport mob scenes and plenty of relaxation.
Flash forward to 2008. Our house renovation began the week of Thanksgiving and we'll be lucky to have a working bathroom by Inaugural Day. There's dust everywhere so we've been living out of suitcases and sharing accomodations with family and friends. Being queen of my castle has given way to feeling king of the road. Now we're back in Florida and this time around I'm just grateful for every bit of togetherness and kindness we can give each other.
In a season when the doldrums come hand in hand with the stress of high expectations, frantic late night wrapping, economic worries, and anxiety about remembering every gift, I have had to let go and make do this year. The class gift for the teacher had to suffice. I cut short the holiday card list because I left my address list back home. The gingerbread house had to be tossed after two days because we were leaving the condo for a hotel. No treasured heirloom stockings - Walgreens came through in a pinch. The cookies were a store bought mix instead of homemade gingerbread rolled out with the my favorite carved rolling pin. Instead of lingering over our boxes of sentimental ornaments, we decorated a tiny plant in our hotel room with ribbons and a star made from a restaurant drink straw. The evergreen was a surprise gift from my sister-in-law - her thoughtfulness made for our girls a little corner of wonder in an anonymous space. It also made me grateful once again for everything we have instead of everything we're missing.
With our entire household life reduced to all that can fit in a few square feet, my attention has been pared down this year to focus on the most important things: family, friends, fun, innocence, togetherness and our daughters' squeals when they unwrapped their pretty trinkets.