We returned yesterday after 5 days in Ohio with Greg's family.
Christmas is irrevocably over. Although I love this holiday, the moment it's over I never fail to feel a giant sense of relief. There is so much build up, and the event itself is such a production. The gift-buying, the parties, the cookies, the memories of other holidays and the expectations for this one…and then suddenly it's done.
Another Christmas under the belt.
A new year just days away. Promise and hope and the first, blank page of a new book. All the madness of December left behind for another year.
(The front yard of Greg's parent's house on December 25.)
I realized at some point last week that this was my 4th Christmas spent with the Booses. In realizing that, I also realized that this was the most consistent my holidays have been since my mother was alive. After she died my holidays became an amalgam of whatever was available. Thanksgivings spent in restaurants or at a table filled with mostly strangers. Christmases spent learning another family's gift exchange rituals, only to never see any of them again.
It's been nice to settle in to something familiar. To anticipate a familiar breakfast dish or look forward to my mother-in-law's generosity in clothing and cooking gifts. It's nice to know that my daughter is experiencing the same. It's nice to be part of a family again.
(V looking ever so serious the day after Christmas.)
I also had a lot of weird memories this past week. I remembered the last Christmas spent with my mother when I was 18. It was a horrible one, spent in DC, just a few weeks before she died. My nephew and I went to Taco Bell and my mother was rushed to the emergency room at the end of the evening. It's not a memory I can bear to dwell on for any length of time.
After that though, I remembered a Christmas spent with my dad out in Los Angeles. What it felt like to wake up to that warm sunshine and the palm trees shimmering outside the window. My father had trouble figuring out what to buy for me, so he'd gone to the Elizabeth Arden counter at Robinson's May (he picked Elizabeth Arden because he'd once known her briefly in the 60s) and bought practically everything they sold.
To this days I still have a random assortment of Red Door perfume and little gleaming bottles of red lipstick, not having had the heart to tell him that I don't wear that kind of stuff. The effort he made to step in after my mother died never ceased to make me feel incredibly loved.
This year Greg got me a Kindle and I got him Boot Camp at the gym (not because he needs it, but because he wants it). Veronica got an absurd amount of dolls and other toys, so many from us and all of our sweet family and friends, that we've stored a few away to pull out when she eventually tires of everything else. Christmas for months!
And now it's just days before the new year. It's 6:30 in the morning and I'm tapping this out from the couch. Baby Signing Time plays quietly on the TV and Veronica is puttering about, half-watching while playing with her new little mouse house. Greg is still asleep in the other room. There are plants to water, groceries to buy, work to catch up on.
I want to find some time this week though to think about the coming year. About what I want for it and just how I want to hold myself as I walk into this new set of days. There is nothing quite like a new year, and all that it can bring.