Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. It’s my mom’s birthday and we’ve always done it up right. My grandma and uncle would spend days putting up two trees (one for the grownups, all department-store perfect, and one for the kids, full of colorful ornaments that wouldn’t break no matter how hard my sister threw them on the ground). On Christmas morning, we’d have mountains of perfectly-wrapped gifts labeled in the swirly writing we knew to be Santa’s – nothing like that of either of my parents or my grandparents – and then later we’d visit family and eat. A lot.
When I was growing up, we lived mostly on the West Coast, but we’d usually fly to Chicago to visit my grandparents – sometimes on Christmas morning. Even as I got older and my grandmother passed away, we started new traditions with family and friends here in San Diego. The whole thing had a different feel, but the same theme – love, celebration, and family.
The first year I moved out of my parents’ house, my roommates decided to go home, north of LA, for Christmas. I decorated the apartment with a few posters and things, but it was depressing. The next year, I’d moved into my own place, and had met the man I’ve now married. We picked out a tree and decorated it together, little knowing that it would become a tradition for us! I’ve bought an ornament, marked with the year and with some adorable animal couple or another, every year since. This year, I’ve got my sights set on a mouse bride and groom.
Each year, I eagerly anticipate the onset of the cooler weather (since, in truth, San Diego’s climate is such that we never really have a true winter), the wearing of my scarf and gloves, the choosing of presents, the decorating. Each year, we’ve spent a good deal of time picking out the perfect tree and lovingly putting our favorite ornaments all over it. It’s become tradition to hang up the cards received in the previous years on a string along the ceiling – it went halfway around the living room last year. Starting as early as possible, I drag out the tiny plastic tree I keep under my desk at work and proudly display it. The first year I was at my job, a coworker said I probably would be told to put it away, since our boss’ boss liked things clean. The second year, the whole office was decked out. I start listening to Christmas songs at Thanksgiving. Earlier, if I can get away with it. My officemate knows that if I’m really starting to hyperventilate over a project gone bad, he can make me feel better by just flipping on a little Burl Ives or Bing Crosby.
This year has been a crazy ride – we got engaged in January and married in September. I’ve had three – count ’em – THREE huge galas to get through at work (the last one being next weekend) and I came down with so many versions of the cold and the flu that they could have used me as a human test tube for cures. I tried enough of them, anyway. Despite the amazing feeling of getting married and the fun of planning and the incredible people I met along the way, I feel like much of this year was lost to me.
Which is why when I looked today on my Facebook Christmas Counter at the number staring back at me – 44 days left – I felt a sense of dread. My house is still full of wedding things – supplies, magazines, gifts that need to be put away, old items replaced by gifts that need to be given away – and while it’s a sight cleaner now than it was two weeks ago, it’s still mostly in disarray. I did manage to drag out my scarecrows – a handsome couple found on sale at Big Lots three years ago – and put them on the entertainment center. But I’m in no way ready to replace them yet with the vintage Santa and Frosty candles I found at a thrift store the following year.
I haven’t even written thank you cards from our wedding yet – and now I need to write Christmas cards too? And get Christmas gifts, not only for my family as always but for Hubby’s as well? Gifts we can agree on? At least that’s going to be better this year – in the past, Hubby’s been famous for running out on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning to purchase gifts for people. Now we’ll be doing it together. Early. Well, as early as we can, given the circumstances.
In all, I’m greatly looking forward to the season. Perhaps I can regain a sense of regularity and begin to feel like I’ve recovered from all the time I lost this year. And I can’t wait to have our first Christmas as husband and wife (despite the strangeness of not spending Christmas Eve night in my old bed at my parents’ house, as I have every year prior, even last year). But I can’t help but hope that time will slow down just a bit – stop hurtling forward as it has been lately – so I can enjoy it!