At 5 years old… Jumping up and down on my oldest sisters bed on Christmas morning, with my sister, T. “Wake up! Santa came!” The orchestrated chaos of Mom’s Christmas morning. Had to have breakfast before gifts were opened – usually some nutritious PopTarts - but we were allowed to dig into the stockings. Mom liked to drag things out – only one gift opened at a time to “make Christmas last”.
At 10 years old… The year i ruined my own Christmas by peeking at every gift with my name on it under the tree. i was good with the letter opener, and carefully slit the tape to reveal what was inside. Lesson learned: Don’t fuck with anticipation.
At 15 years old… After a tumultuous year of battles with my sister, T, we reconcile. She was suffering quietly through fights with her girlfriend – she wasn’t ‘out’ to anyone then. After my best friend, J, had come out to me earlier that year, he suggested i just go ahead, tell my sister i knew she was a lesbian, and offer support. It worked. My gift to her that year was a collection of ‘gay lit’ books – “The Front Runner” and “Rubyfruit Jungle”, suggested by J.
At 20 years old… My first Christmas away from my family. i had been living with EJ for a year, and he was going to Florida to spend the holiday with his parents. i go with him. Calling home on Christmas day is weird. A little bittersweet – a sense of independence as i start something new, and a sense of loss as i leave something behind. And the weirdest thing of all: Having a family meal with people who were quiet. i could hear myself chew!
At 25 years old… A baby? The girl at about 18 months old. Our first house. Having a baby gave us an excuse not to travel, so we don’t have to go to Florida, but we are required to bring the toddler to The Park. Overloaded toddler by 5:00 pm, as we retreat homeward as soon as we can possibly escape.
At 30 years old… The peak years for me “doing” Christmas. Love buying gifts and wrapping them beautifully. Baking with the kids. Driving through the neighborhoods looking at holiday lights. Hitting the road for “warm” Christmases in Florida every other year. Our own family holiday traditions emerging – saying “It’s the most beautiful Christmas tree ever” as soon as the tree is done – which has to be said every year. Still the ‘Santa’ years… One kid serving as “elf” to distribute presents. Learning that dogs can smell wrapped chocolates under a tree, and will eat an entire pound box. And then paint the household a horrid shade of brown…
At 35 years old… Mellower. Santa puts scratch off lottery tickets in stockings, and the emphasis is now hanging out, watching movies, and eating junk food until we achieve sugar comas. Travel every other year to visit grandparents – despite the fact that no one really wants to do it, we made the best of it… sometimes renting a beach house for a few days en route.
At 40 years old… Awkward. My husband and i are effectively separated and living in two different homes, but we converge on the vacation place up north for Christmas. The kids are REALLY over the hype. We spend our time watching satellite tv movies. Playing with dogs. Staring at the frozen lake. Drinking. A lot. The Trailer Park Christmas has gotten ugly, with disagreements percolating in many corners. i develop the ‘avoid and minimize’ strategy. Mom grumbles that the family has fallen apart and that Christmas just isn’t the same any more.
Today… It’s noon. i’m still in my pajamas. The Girl is sleeping downstairs because she works retail now, and had to work late last night. The Boy is visiting his dad up north, because Dad needs company after losing both his live-in girlfriend and his father within the past month. Drank a half pot of coffee – with a little Kahlua in deference to the holiday. Read the newspaper. Basically, it’s kinda like any other Saturday, only everything’s closed. We’ll get together and hang out when The Boy drops by early next week.
Life is good. Merry Christmas!