Wednesday, December 11, 2019

on tradition and loss

Until the past couple of years, I'd always approached the holidays with a certain level of excitement. Excitement for festivities, for presents, for family gatherings. I never wanted to rush it--relishing that after Thanksgiving, up went the tree and decor and thus began the shopping expeditions.  (Somehow for all that shopping, I was, and still am, a last minute gift shopper, even online.)  So much of Christmas was tradition--when we put the tree up, when we went to look at lights (this happened less as we got older, but it still occasionally happened as adults.)  You take a fundamental person out of these equations and the whole thing tips sideways.  Things change, entire family dynamics shift.  As such, I find myself trying to fake it til I make it terms of holiday joy, and it's a little exhausting sometimes.

And yet, new traditions take the place of old ones. For a while I try to set aside a day for my apartment decking out, though, some years are more spare than others (my tastes are changing toward more simple, minimalist decor (not to mention the hazards of two demon siamese.)  This year, I have a tiny tree with lights, some window snowflake decals, and a eucalyptus wreath on my apartment door. While I put everything up, I started watching terrible Hallmark-ish holiday romances and kept up the marathon through the rest of the weekend--while I cleaned, while I made books.  I've done this for the past few years, even before we lost my mother, so it's oddly comforting and something I look forward to.

Now, since my Dad's side of the family celebrates earlier in the month, we spend Christmas Eve with my sister--last year that included a trip to the Chinese Buffet and then presents & dessert at their place. And my Dad will cook for whoever is around on the holiday proper. It's not at all the same as it used to be, but mostly enjoyable if you can get around the hole that opens in the fabric sometimes and swallows you.  It doesn't look at all like it used to, which casts a wide shadow, yet you muddle through.   There are gatherings and parties that lead up, some of which I actually get out to--work stuff, Jonathan and I celebrate around the new year when I'm back in the city, all things to look forward to. But it's hard at the same time to approach it as eagerly as I once did.

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