My Boring Christmas

ChristmasBellsWhen I was young, Christmas required presents, and the more, the merrier!

My transition away from Christmas greediness began in 2001, the year my dad died. He was Mr. Christmas, and our rituals rotated around his jollity and let’s-celebrate-with-champagne spirit. I didn’t grow up with a large extended family. It was just us — mom, dad, three girls — on the west coast. Without Pop, our routines simplified. Mom bought a fake tree, and we didn’t bother preparing so much food.

Christmas felt hollow without Pop. Luckily, about this time, my sister N had a son, then a few years later, her second son. So Christmas became about them. They’d visit after the 25th to celebrate a second Christmas with us (noni and the crazy aunties). Those were some fun years — and Christmas became a big deal again. I don’t have kids, but I experienced the joys that children bring to the season. In fact, the boys replaced Dad as Christmas spirits.

Christmas still revolved around presents. Only now I relished buying my nephews the perfect gifts, and I didn’t care what I received.

boysxmas2007The last few years, it has just been Mom, my youngest sister, and I. Life is too hectic for N to visit with the boys. Also, Mom has dementia, so we’ve pared down our Christmas even more. My sisters and I don’t exchange gifts anymore. I still enjoy buying the perfect gifts for my nephews. I also like buying Mom new things to replace her old stuff. Among other things, this year she’ll be receiving a new winter coat, bathrobe, slippers, bedside clock with large display, and sheets. Plus, her obligatory box of See’s Candy.

Twenty years ago I would have cared that I wasn’t receiving presents in return.

winterIt’s funny how life changes us. These days my friends are as much my family — and maybe even more so — than my actual family. Last year, for the first time in my life (except for the years I lived abroad) I did not spend Christmas Eve with my family. Instead, I went to dinner at a fabulous restaurant with a friend. We ate and drank too much, and had a blast. It’s our new tradition.

Twenty years ago I would have pitied my future self these apparently boring Christmases. But I love them. They’re simple. They’re about friends and family in equal portions.

Sure, gifts are still a part of it. I exchange gifts with some of my friends. The difference is that I’m not tallying whether I spent more that anyone else did, or how many gifts I received, or whether I’d have liked something else instead.

These days, I’m greedy for time with people I care about. Receiving gifts is a holiday bonus rather than a requirement. If this is boring, then I’ll take it!


2 thoughts on “My Boring Christmas

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