(Originally posted Dec 2014)
It’s Christmas Eve morning. In my corner of the world the sun has finally come up enough to lighten the rain clouds to a soft slate gray, and the predicted chance of snow has been mercifully cancelled. Don’t get me wrong, snow is exciting and pretty at Christmas. But truth is, its ugly side is all anyone who has to travel can see, myself included.
Before I head out to my sister’s, I am spending a decidedly Christmasy morning curled up on my couch with a roaring fire streaming to my smart-TV—complete with a space heater situated just below for the full effect—and a hot cup of eggnog flavored coffee. The tree lights are the only thing illuminating the room, and Christmas music is playing on my computer. It genuinely feels like a (modern) Christmas morning.
Since my folks’ passing, Christmas is a completely different event. To begin with, I’m relaxing at home, not frantically running around trying to get everything together in order to get on the road for 72 hours of celebration and activity. Left to just us, Christmas is a far more casual occasion. Dec. 24 is a day to do with as we individually wish, eventually gathering for dinner at anyone’s house who wants to host it, and Dec. 25 is now a day to sleep in, take it slow, before coming together for a casual late brunch/early lunch and gift exchange. Maybe we’ll play some games afterward, or read a book, take a nap, watch a movie, or go on to other activities in other places with other people not our family. Dec. 26 is no longer on the docket.
Being accustomed to Christmas the way my parents’ celebrated, I thought I would be devastated after their deaths; that I would long for the pomp-and-circumstance they made of the holiday, no matter how exhausted I was by Dec. 27th. To my surprise, I discovered I like “the new normal” quite a lot. I mean, I do miss some of my parents’ fa-la-la-la, and probably always will, but those things will now have to live in sweet memory. And that’s fine, because I am not brought low by losing what once was. I know the holiday spirit my folks loved so much is eternal, even if it shows up in different ways from here on out.