Christmas

Dec. 23rd, 2012 06:54 pm
afterallthistime: (nothing to say)
[personal profile] afterallthistime
I love the anticipation of the holiday. That's something that I've always kept expecting to die, as awful and cynical as that sounds, and to be fair, I certainly feel the stress of the holiday now in a way I didn't when I was younger. Now I'm responsible for buying gifts, mailing cards, cooking dishes for various gatherings; there's social and financial pressure, there's the pressure of just not feeling like I have enough time (because on top of Holiday Stress, I now have Just Trying to Get Through the Goddamn Day Stress), and there's the issue of tying to juggle obligations with, not only friends, but two families.

It take a longer time for my to start feeling festive. When I was small, it was like, day after Thanksgiving, BAM. Time to put up the tree, and start Christmas shopping, and listening to Christmas music, and watching the Christmas specials they started airing every Saturday night, and having holiday parties at school, and shopping for Advent calendars, and and and. Now it's like, okay, I got out of work at 11 am on December 21st -- I think the first real stirring of "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!" hit me at about 8 am that same day. I don't know if it'd be different if I didn't work at the high school, if I wasn't exposed to kids who still get ridiculously excited to see their little cousins and get presents on go on trips and just be on vacation for ~2 weeks. But the enthusiasm is contagious. The last two years, my one-on-one was not a socially-motivated individual. He had virtually no interest in the holiday, and seemed to look at it almost in trepidation, as a change in routine (and he didn't like changes in his routine). This year, I'm with kids who approach the holiday with total abandon -- they are PSYCHED up for the season. On Friday, our first block class has a grand total of two (out of eight) kids -- Bill and I seriously just let them chill out, we talked about Christmas traditions in our various families and Bill played "a perfect blend of traditional Christmas music" from his iPad, which apparently includes "Mack the Knife" and "Baba O'Reilly" (epic!) We brought the kids down to breakfast around 8:30 and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas in Block 2, then sat around and listened to a mix of Christmas songs Block Three (I didn't know Sum 41 and The Kinks had Christmas songs, but apparently they do), and watched Wall-e Block Four. It was an actual, genuinely fun time spent with the kids, and went a long way to gearing me up for Christmas.

This year, Andy works on Christmas Eve, so sometime around 4pm, I'm going to meet up with my brother and spend the evening at my parents house; my mom went and bought this huge array of snacks and wine and I'm bringing over some games, and when Andy gets out of work at 2 am, he'll pick me up so I'll be home Christmas morning for breakfast (one of the few days I cook a "real" breakfast -- usually muffins, toast, eggs, bacon, and fried potatos). After breakfast and relaxing, we'll head to my parents to socialize, have dinner, and do gifts. Joce and Steve will be over for dinner and gifts too, and I am just... so looking forward to it.

I enjoy Christmas as an adult; I've had pretty rough patches with them, obviously, but in general, I've always had good to excellent relationships with both my siblings and my parents, and now that we aren't living together, Christmas is a little more signifigant; I see my folks about once a week (because my dad gives me a ride home when Andy works the day shift), but it's only for about an hour, during which time I basically have a cup of coffee with my mom and check work emails, sometimes I'll even take a nap, etc. It's like, almost a business visit, lol. The holidays are one of the few times when not only are we all together for signifigant time, but when we are all actively engaged with one another. That, more than the "seeing each other" bit, is what sets it apart.

There is something to be said about those Christmases at home, though. My siblings and I are fairly close in age (I'm 30; my sister is 28 and my brother is 26), and when we were young -- but not too young; young, but not "little" -- we were like these time bombs of anticipation. My sister and I would get into bed fairly early (we shared a room, and even when we didn't, she'd often camp out with me on Christmas; we do that to this day, on the nights I stay at her house) and read magazines or favorite books to each other until we fell asleep, and we'd inevitably be awake again by, like 3:30 am, at which point we'd have those kinds of whispered conversations that are complete and utter fluff but are just WAY TOO FUCKING HILARIOUS to the parties involved, and then sneak out of our room into my brother's. He was always asleep, but SPRUNG awake as soon as we crept up to his bed. We'd huddle in the living room on the pull-out couch with chips and whatever candy we'd already been able to finage out of our parents and watch tangentially-related Christmas stuff on late night TV. It was never, like, classic Christmas fare on at that time of the morning, it was always something like seasonably appropriate infomercials (which, again, were SO FUCKING HILARIOUS) or things like, one year, the Beavis and Butthead Christmas episode? I remember nothing about it except that it existed, and we watced it at like 4 in the morning, and my brother could do a fucking SPOT ON, UNCANNY Beavis impression. There was just always this buzz, and part of it was to do with sleeplessness and the quietness and relative solitude of that time in the morning, and part of it was likely to do with a nostalgia that we were already feeling (we didn't believe in Santa anymore, but we still followed a lot of the traditions from when we were younger, getting dressed up and going visiting on Christmas Eve, seeing the relatives we only saw once a year). And part of it was just... I don't know. I just remember, really clearly, one of those Christmas nights, looking out the window around 4 am with Joce and Rob, and it had just started snowing, and the entire street was lit with people Christmas lights, and it was just so profoundly quiet, and we were so awake and excited. That's something I've not been able to reclaim, but then again, I haven't really tried to. Once that level of wonder goes, it goes. I think what we share now is different, but not lesser. It's appreciation on a different level.

All my gifts are done, all but two are wrapped. The house is almost clean (need to tidy up the craft room, which was the hub of Christmas crafting, and wipe down the bathroom). I'm going to take the plunge and put ornaments on the tree, if only to see how River reacts to them (no lights, though; all I need is for her to decided her bestest, most favoritest Christmanas wish is to be garroted by festive lights). I'm making dinner and folding laundry and looking very much forward to tomorrow.

I'd like to do a Bucket List update/revision before the end of the year, but as I don't quite know what the next few days will bring, Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and a wonderful start to your new year, if I miss it.

I leave you with a lovely, nerdy Christmas video that my siblings and I ran into on TV during one of those Christmas nights when we weren't quite so little anymore ;)

Date: 2012-12-24 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cosmic-reverie.livejournal.com
It sounds like you have a great family! I think family togetherness can make all of the distance around the holidays. I, too, love Christmas just as much as I did as a kid, but probably for different reasons. I try very hard not to get stressed or allow anyone to pressure me around this time because I find that takes away from my enjoyment of the purpose of Christmas. I hope your Christmas this year is just as wonderful as Christmases past!

Date: 2012-12-24 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] larivee22.livejournal.com
I think I used to get much more nostalgic for Christmas Eves' past when I was in my late teens / early twenties. Probably because my grandmother was sick and my cousins had their own tiny kids to get all the attention (heh) so going through the same rituals was just so not the same, now that I have Eric's aunts and the holiday routines have changed and stuff, things are different enough that I don't really feel as bittersweet as I used to. But you're right, the most memorable ones tend to be when you're a kid, and when that poignancy goes, it goes.

Date: 2012-12-24 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] valpadalecki.livejournal.com
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! :)

*hugs*

Cute video by the way.

Date: 2012-12-28 02:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bennybunny.livejournal.com
For me, Christmas music gets it going. Fairytale Of New York and Rockin Around The Christmas Tree are what earth the experience for me, but we don't have music in the shop, so I'm left to hunt for more hollow measures. The crackling log fire of my Dad's house was when it first felt like Christmas this year in the absence of snow.

I would think it is a medical impossibility to watch Charlie Brown Christmas and if you're not vigorously opposed to all the pagan hijacking in the first place not to feel at least an ounce of oozy christmas chipper anticipation and sentimentality.

Glad you had a nice time, chum.

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afterallthistime: (Default)
we understand the lights.

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