Merry Christmas

There’s some relief that the holiday is over, I’m not going to lie, but I also had a really wonderful Christmas.  I got to spend time with my family, my son absolutely loved everything he got, my family liked the presents I got them, and I am thrilled with the gifts I got this year.

My mother shopped off my wish list, which is a mixed blessing; she likes “surprising” her giftees, and feels like buying off the wish list is “less fun.”  I had to ask her, for whom is it “less fun?”  I adore surprises, don’t get me wrong, and to her credit, my mom is actually very good at getting me good surprises, but items are on my wish list because I want them.  And, especially since I had a kid, I am less and less likely to buy said items for myself, so getting them is — for me — pretty damn fun.  Also, the older we get and the less intimately privy she is to our interests, she literally begs us to send her wish lists and then complains about the contents (she was (mostly performatively, but somewhat genuinely) irritated with my husband because all of the items on his wish list were books).

I was actually kind of shocked that two of the items my mom got for me off my wish list were two non-binary pride shirts, making this the first time she’s ever acknowledged my affinity for that identity, which was really lovely (less heart-warmingly, but still pretty happily, I also got a The Good Place t-shirt that I am most definitely wearing all the time).  Misha Collins’s The Adventurous Eater’s Club, both the Good Omens TV Companion and Script Book (plus replicas of TV Crowley’s glasses!), and a set each of micron pens and new acrylics and brushes rounded out some of the highlights.  I’m going to do some line tests with the microns in my sketchbook tonight and start working on some art this weekend (after my cleaning project; expect updates about that later).

My son has over 2200 Legos now, and couldn’t be happier.  He’s also been gifted about a half dozen various building sets.  I think all the grandparents are pretty set on raising an engineer.

Oh, and to answer my own question from last time: Bear came in after a bad dream at 6:00 am, at which point I had been awake (and then sort of half dozing) since 4 am.  It was a surprisingly low-key day:  we didn’t actually get out of bed until 7:00, eating breakfast at 8:00, and opening gifts at 9.  We got to my parents’ house at 10 am, and he didn’t open gifts until 1:00 pm, with minimal complaint.  He was incredibly, incredibly patient today, despite being likewise incredibly excited.  I’m very proud of him.

Whether or not you celebrate the holiday, I hope you got some time to relax and spend doing something you love.


Christmas Eve

Now that, right there, is a throwback to an entirely embarrassing part of my life — my intense and extended involvement in the Clay Aiken fandom.  I will never apologize for loving Clay Aiken, because I still maintain that he has a beautiful voice, and even at the time of our fandom, we knew how insanely cookie-cutter and vanilla his songs were, so we were very self-aware about how ridiculous the fandom was, which was actually part of the fun of it.  Sadly, the fandom wound up becoming so incredibly toxic that I can’t help but admit to being a part of it with anything but an instinctive cringe.

That being said, this song brings back a lot of good memories.  When Clay did his Christmas tour in the early aughts, I was unable to go; I was still in college and didn’t have a job, and my family was pretty tight on money.  So my two best friends — one whom has since passed away, the other of whom has recently asked me to be her Maid of Honor — went to the concert and called me when he sang all my favorite songs, so that I could at least experience a little of it in real time with them.  It was incredibly sweet, and something I still think about.

Everything is wrapped and packed for the Christmas festivities.  It took longer than I would have liked this year, but we spent a lot of the two weeks leading up to Christmas unable to be in the house because Columbia Gas kept shutting our heat off because of water in the line.  They’ve been on our street literally every day for the week and a half, and the heat has gone off an additional four times since that first event, when we were without for between 38-44 hours and we all had to stay at my parents’.  Needless to say, that put a pause on anything holiday-related we could have hoped to accomplish in the house.

Knock on wood, we have heat now, and are looking forward to seeing friends,  hunkering down for the night, and seeing people in the morning.  I have to admit, Christmas doesn’t have that same aura of magic as it did as a kid, but there is still something that I love about Christmas Eve, especially now that I have my son.

Anyone want to place bets on what ungodly hour Bear will have us up at?


My son is five (and if that didn’t happen in the blink of an eye), and this feels like the first real year we’re experiencing the whole “magic of Christmas” with him.  I think he got the general gist of Santa and gift-giving and what-not last year, at four, but his ability to articulate his excitement and the sheer up-shoot in the level of said excitement is just exponential.  Last year, it kind of felt like he was along for the ride; this year, he’s pulling the sleigh.

Which puts a little pressure on us, I guess.  I don’t know, I feel like we went a little buckwild this year, when generally we try to restrain ourselves from going overboard with gifting.  I, especially, grew up with intense financial anxiety which has not abated at all over time (if anything, it’s gotten worse), and I refuse to go into debt over trying to having The Biggest and Best Christmas.  Bear is never lacking, never without, and while I think Christmas is a nice chance to splurge, I refuse to let my own mental health suffer so I can out Just One More Present under the tree.

I think it’s another way in which I am trying so hard to very conscientiously not be like my mom, who (after the Santa charade was up), would spend days leading up to Christmas lamenting how lame our holiday was going to be and mentally brow-beating herself over her inability to do More, More, More.  And every year, the actual resultant display of gifts on Christmas morning was almost embarrassingly lavish; looking back on some of those childhood Christmases, I actually feel something bordering shame.  It was all just So Much.  And I appreciated the sentiment (still do), since my folks hustled hardcore around the holidays to give us the extras we often went without the remainder of the year.  But then they always felt the need to keep up that momentum, or worse, out do it year to year, and that just isn’t always feasible.  I’m not going to get myself in that situation.

Bear has woken up every morning since about the 18th asking if it’s Christmas yet, so he is quite excited for tomorrow, when I’ve promised him baking Christmas cookies, Christmas movies, a game of Qwirkle, making a holiday video message for Facebook, playing Christmas games online, and keeping at eye on the Santa Tracker.  We’ve got a holiday open house at a friend’s tomorrow night after my husband gets out of work, so hopefully Bear will be well and tuckered out by the time we leave the party.  We’ve been trying to set ground rules about when it’s ok to wake Mommy and Daddy up on Christmas morning, but given that he doesn’t have a clock it his room, the best we can do is, “not until you see the sun.”

He is deathly afraid that Christmas morning will be cloudy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about holiday traditions; we didn’t have a ton as a kid, but there were a few things that just elicited an almost Pavlovian response; like, as soon as we put on those heavy crushed velvet dresses, or as soon as the Animaniacs Christmas special came on, as soon as I could smell my mom’s hair spray and the sharp, ozone scent of the curling iron.  Just these little sensations and experiences that triggered a Christmas Nerve.  We each opened one present on Christmas Eve, snacked on antipasto, went to my Grandmother’s and my cousin Helena’s open house, and then all caught a few hours of fitful sleep before all waking up and congregating on the pullout couch in the living room to watch late night TV.

We haven’t developed anything consistent yet, but it also occurs to me that Bear’s holiday experiences are going to be fundamentally different as an only child than mine was, with two siblings two and three-and-half years younger than me.  There’s no one for him to have those late-night Christmas moments with, which are honestly the thing I look back on with the fondest and most vivid memories.  I’d like to come up with something, though, something that will say “It’s Christmas” for him the way those little rituals did for me.

Does anyone have any small Christmas traditions they’d like to share?