Ah, it has been a glorious Christmas Eve with all the happy domestic chaos and pandemonium that such a statement entails. Funny foods -- pieroghis, lentil soup, mushroom soup, bread with buckwheat honey with pickled herring, pickled eggs and beets, and beets and horseradish thrown in as new additions for good measure. Yet another pinochle game played while sipping 16 year old Lagavulin single malt. My cousin's young children, A. and J.R., running about everywhere, playing hide and seek, and saying "you dirty rats" while kibbitz-ing at cards. My sister S. 7.5 months pregnant, and very much looking it. My brother-in-law M. at once hopeful about the new job offer he just got, but also fretting in his New York City way that it is all happening too fast and at once, and he won't have the lead time to prepare for his new employment position. In all, a continuing chapter in the Norman Rockwell-esque tendencies that reflect my life from its earliest days.
Yet, I find myself being somewhat philosophical during this most special evening. I returned here to the land of my birth last weekend looking forward to the forms and traditions of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is Fiancee S.'s first Christmas with my family, and I wanted to reach back in time to touch all the Christmases in my past to show her what the holiday means to me. You can come home, of course, but you cannot go back... and it left everthing feeling fulfilling, yet simultaneously slightly hollow.
Being an adult seems to make you party to so many negotiations and obligations around the holiday, not to mention stress. I have been feeling all of that this week... especially as I ran out today to get some Christmas cards for my dear, dear family in what was the absolute LAST of my Christmas shopping this year. As a child, Christmas is something that is more or less done for you. An adult is more about pulling the levers behind the curtain that says "nothing to see here." This makes Christmas different in some fundamental way than it once was to me.
Amid all of this, I finally achieved some clarity. It is all really so simple that I occasionally need to remind myself about what it is really all about. It is about being with my loved ones, all trying to celebrate together. It is about the love and concern that makes us care for and about one another. It is about playing with children, and talking with adults. It is more about the process of preparing the food, wrapping the presents, and decorating the tree, all these things done together, rather than any ritual formula reproducing holidays past. It is the feeling that makes the experience full and worthy of note.
I am very much feeling the love in all of this on this holiday evening, my gentle readers. I hope you find it as well... either in big groups or small, with those who relate to you by blood, or those kindred souls you have found to share your life. Feel the love of those around you. Merry Christmas!
on 2003-12-24 at 11:25 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond