Friday, December 07, 2007

A Christmas Story

It’s taken me almost a week to get my ass back into gear, but considering that I’ve been living with a jetlagged 8 month old for the last few days, I’m surprised I’m still standing.

So, it’s that time of year again. This Christmas is particularly exciting as I will have the opportunity, to actually, you know, decorate. While living on a boat has it’s advantages, especially if you like ducks, fish and manual toilet emptying, a rather large disadvantage is not having the space to swing a cat, let alone put up a Christmas tree. Mr. DD and I always tried to make do with a tiny plastic tree which was never large enough to accommodate our already vast collection of ornaments. (When we were married, my mother threw an “ornament” shower for us, so we’re all good on the hanging stuff front).

This year, while we finally have the space, we also have someone living with us who will want to get physically, spiritually and orally acquainted with said Christmas tree, so it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge to decorate like I’ve always wanted and still make sure that there is only a wisp of a chance that the Prawn will decide that Christmas lights are tasty and nutritious.

My father once wisely said that Christmas is a holiday that’s always tinged with melancholy due to the fact that it cannot be celebrated one Christmas at a time; every Christmas is a reminder of all the Christmases that have gone before.

I suppose I was around 15 or 16 when I had a sudden and unsettling realization that Christmas was never going to have the same kind of magic that it had for me as a child and it made me terribly sad for a number of holiday seasons. I’m not sure I even knew how to articulate how I was feeling, but I just knew that it “wasn’t like before.”

On my first Christmas home from college, we travelled up to Pennsylvania for the annual family Christmas get togethers. The Christmas Eve celebration (typically my favourite part of the whole holiday) was held at the house of my mother’s cousin, as it had been for years. (She’d taken over the party from HER mother, my grandmother’s sister) It was actually snowing, making the woods where her house was achingly picturesque. I’d left something in the car, so I’d crunched back down the driveway to get it. On the way back, my foot shot out from under me and I ended up flat on my back in the driveway. As I lay there, looking up at the falling snow and hoping that I wasn’t suffering from a concussion, I suddenly hear the faint sound of a choir in the valley below singing “Silent Night.”

It was a strange and happy epiphany I had at that moment; I suddenly made peace with sense of loss from Christmases past and knew that although that feeling of wonder that I’d experienced as a child was gone, it would be replaced with a warm, more familial feeling as I grew older. I’d look forward to it for different reasons. I’d celebrate it in different ways. The melacholy that had afflicted me for years evaporated, leaving behind the knowledge that it would leave behind only a happy, nostalgic ache, once every 25th of December.

So, lying in the driveway, snow slowing soaking through the back of my coat, I smiled.

This year, I've found that some of that sense of wonder has returned. It's my job to make Christmas happen for my daughter. (Even though this year, she will be more interested in eating Christmas than experiencing it.) All of the beautiful things that I remember from my childhood can come to life again for her, as well as new things that Mr. DD and I will create for ourselves.

I can't tell you how excited I am about that.


Becky said...

At the risk of sounding predictably corny, Christmas is so much better when viewed through a child's wonderment (is that a word? Not sure I care today). Having someone other than yourself to celebrate for and with makes all the difference in the world.

When I met my husband, when my big son was 2, his Christmas's were not something he looked forward to. Now, he is delighted by all of the things that we get to do. It's like getting to relive those excellent childhood memories without having to be a child.

lisalou said...

You are making me sappy. A lovely post.

Meg said...

Yes, I remember that sense of disillusionment when I realised christmas wasn't the same anymore. I have this memory of driving back from my aunts on Christmas day and crying in the back of the car. I think I was about 12 or 13.

But you're right, it does come back. I will never forget my first christmas with my step-kids, taking them to see the lights and seeing how excited they were. I'm so looking forward to experiencing that with Jasper.

On a tangent, how is your little one doing with the solids these days?

MsPrufrock said...

Pennsylvania, reppin'! Woo hoo!

Anyway, I feel the same day you do. Can P and I come round to celebrate with you and young Prawn a few times in the next few weeks? The Dude is such a drag at Christmas. I want Christmas music.

rockmama said...

Meg- She's doing fine! I've been trying to give her more challenging things, but I'm still having to mash up some stuff. Feeding has become slightly more problematic since my mother taught her to blow proper raspberries which she now does while eating to devestating effect.

Pru- Come on over. We'll get squiffy on Baileys and hot chocolate and listen to "Christmas With Frank and Bing".