Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. Can you tell I’m a fan of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol? I realized something this week and that is change can be good.
A pandemic can even bring the change and it is still good.
This year, we decided to celebrate the Christmas holiday at our cabin. It is three hours north of our primary residence, and really, a house – with all the amenities. But, despite building it over 15 years ago, we’ve never celebrated Christmas there. With the exception of three vacations over Christmas week, we’ve always stayed at home for the holiday. Originally, this was due to wanting our three young boys to wake on Christmas morning in their own beds. Later, it became more of a necessity due to jobs. My husband worked the Christmas holiday biannually. And, our boys also had jobs in the service industry that necessitated working the holiday, on occasion.
Therefore, when home, our holiday celebrations mimicked those of my own upbringing – of Christmases past. This meant special meals served on a somewhat fancier table than usual, pondering when, and if, we would make it to Christmas Eve services, calls from our relatives – including grandparents and aunts in New York State, and opening presents. This year, it struck me how the Christmas celebrations I experienced as a young child influenced those expectations and activities I had as an adult. It also struck me, as we stayed at our cabin, that my immediate family no longer has to celebrate like my extended family did in New York. It’s only taken me twenty years and all three of my sons’ childhoods to realize this.
Although I was thrilled at the suggestion, made by our oldest son (26), to stay at our cabin for the holiday, I also experienced some trepidation. Change does that, I know. I wondered if it was the right decision to break with tradition, to venture somewhere we knew but where the holiday might seem different. But, after talking it over with everyone in our family (5), we decided to go for it.
Getting ready was somewhat overwhelming for me. Two weeks before the holiday, my husband and I went north, and I set up a pencil tree in the cabin so it would seem festive and welcoming when we arrived later in the month for our holiday celebration. Lots of lists were made to ensure that we got done what we needed to before we left – purchasing and wrapping presents, awaiting mail deliveries, stopping the mail, grocery shopping, and packing warm clothes.
Since we’ve been very conservative during the pandemic, following all social distancing guidelines and limiting trips in public, all of our food was packed and transported to the cabin. This included dry food, perishables, and libations. Gifts, already wrapped in colorful Christmas papers, also needed to receive transport and took up considerable space. Finally, we had two pets to think of as well. Our yellow Labrador is now 70 pounds at 18 months of age. She is full of excitement and loves the cabin, as well as the snow. We also had a guest pet that needed to be transported as well. Our son, who lives in Iowa and attends grad school there, recently got a “rescue” cat named Peanut. Peanut came with us to the cabin. But the dog and cat needed to be transported separately (of course). In short, we had a lot to take to the cabin with us!
Gathering at our primary residence first for a few days, after our middle son completed his work and school obligations, we packed up and decided who was driving with who.
Upon arrival to the cabin, there was a dusting of snow and a welcoming sunset in the evening.
The following day we got more snow. And, by Christmas Day, we had a wonderful winter wonderland in which to take a sunny walk. There wasn’t enough snow to ski and the lake ice got pocked by some rain that came down after our arrival, but still a cold (12 degree) winter walk was rejuvenating.
Christmas Present, at our cabin, was a success. We were more relaxed. Fun was had by playing games. Our 21-year-old taught us poker (at which I am very bad). We played Rat a Tat Cat, a fun game from my sons’ youth that we all enjoyed. We watched Christmas movies – White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. And, we still had some great meals, just not fancy. We Facetimed my sister in law who is in Florida as we opened presents from her. And, we opened stockings and gifts on Christmas morning, just as we would at home.
We shared five days of being together, as a family. We laughed, we ate, we slept, we played games, and took walks. We celebrated the joy of being together. It made me realize that we did not have to follow all of the traditions of Christmases past. And, I was better for it, emotionally.
Christmas Future? I hope more of them are at the cabin.
Today is Slice of Life Tuesday – the last one for 2020!
Thank you to TwoWritingTeachers.org for offering this weekly forum so we can share our thoughts and writing with such a supportive community! To all my readers who have recently commented on blog posts, I will be replying to comments over the next two days. I apologize for such a delay in my response. Thank you for reading and commenting! I read each and every one!