We’ve put up the tree — late this year — and wrapped all the gifts. Yesterday I ordered more firewood and I’ve got a haircut in the books before the weekend. I finally pulled the carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey from my freezer and turned it into a thick, gnarly gumbo because the kids are home from college to eat it. I’m making practice batches of Christmas cookies and sourcing authentic Italian bread for the feasts to come. I’m wearing sweaters because I’m freezing, always.
It’s a lot more calm than usual around our house in this week before Christmas. We’ve no travel this year, no parties to attend. My partner has been stockpiling gifts since August, so there’s no last-minute shopping to do. I’m not cooking Christmas dinner this year; like I say, I just need to bring the bread. Last week we went to our very last holiday concert at the school, something we’ve been compelled to do every single year since 2005, when our oldest started kindergarten.
Christmas is easier now, with grown kids and all these years of practice. But it’s harder, too.
My father died just after Christmas last year. This will be the first one in my entire life without him, though if I’m being real, he was pretty out of it last year and spent most of the day dozing in and out on the couch. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown last Christmas, at night, after everyone had gone home. Two weeks later he was gone.
Like Heraclitus’ river, you can’t celebrate the same Christmas twice. Sometimes it’s rainy; sometimes you’re far from home; sometimes you get all the presents you wanted; sometimes there are new babies; sometimes there are empty seats at the table. It’s the way of things, I know.
But Christmas feels a little heavier this year, even with the kids coming home, even with all the chores done and a load of firewood on order.
I’ve got the rest of the week to tap into that deep vein of Christmas joy I see everywhere around me. I will do my best.
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