For years and years, I’ve run a very tight Christmas ship. Very tight. Spreadsheet kinda tight, and it’s really worked for me. It’s prevented a hysterical sort of feeling in my tummy and made it possible for me to get a lot done during the run up to the holiday. This year – well this year there was a problem with the spreadsheet. The appointed day came to open it and start worrying about Christmas, and I opened it, saw my mothers name on it and closed it again. I’d made notes about what her gift would be, what I had to take to her house for Christmas dinner, what sort of cookies I had to bake in time for her annual Christmas party, and it just stung too much too see how many things we always do that we won’t this year. I’m not sure what happened after that, but the general sense of dread I’d had about the holiday turned into a more specific one, and I entered a prolonged period of denial. I just didn’t worry about it.
I didn’t pre-shop, I didn’t worry about presents, I didn’t knit Christmas specific stuff (much) … I didn’t do any of the things I usually do, and for a while that seemed like it was working. I didn’t have to feel bad that my mum won’t be at Christmas… I think on some level I’d just decided that we wouldn’t have one. It seemed so simple. There was just one little problem with that.
It’s Elliot’s first Christmas, and this family is so, so good at Christmas – in no small part because my mum was such a wonderful grandmother, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I owe him the same… and not just a token Christmas, a really lovely one. To somehow figure out new traditions – new ways of doing things.
I don’t know what’s going to be possible – I’m not even sure how to handle things. I mean, do I bake meringues if what I did with them was take them to my mother’s party? When do I see the relatives I saw at mum’s? Do they come to my house? What do we do in the afternoon on Christmas day, when usually we would bathe and dress to go to my Mum’s? It seems really complicated to figure out, and I can tell that it’s going to take a lot of energy. I remembered to buy Meg some blank ornaments so she could make them with Elliot’s foot and handprints, and I managed somehow (a little late for me) to put the tree up, and cried sentimentally the whole time I did it, but it’s up there, and it is lovely to have it, and I do love seeing it. It hurt to make it happen, but I see now that it would have hurt more to not put it up. I’m going to keep that in mind as I try to get the rest of this thing going.
This Christmas is going to be about the basics. People. Time. Being together. There isn’t going to be a mad knitting dash to the end (that’s a lie I have one sort of wild plan) I’m not going to make a million cookies – just the favourites we really love. (I don’t know if that’s meringues.) I’ve come to this a little late to the party – just about two weeks to get it all together, but I’m going to be gentle with myself and my family – we still weather regular storms. Making a Christmas grocery list is a chore that should have taken me ten minutes today, but it came grinding to a halt as I encountered a recipe card in my mum’s handwriting. I love her handwriting. Reflecting on that and looking for other cards she wrote turned it into a lost half hour.
I was going to knit a ton last night – but a first attempt to make a family plan to deal with mum’s stuff degraded into trying on all her shoes. (They mostly fit Erin and I. It was sad and funny and… not knitting.) I have a feeling a lot of it is going to be like that, and I don’t know how to plan for it, maybe you can’t. Maybe this year just isn’t going to be compatible with a plan, really. Maybe this is the year I just do…. what?
So far, my entire Christmas plan consists of me saying “We are really going to have to do something about Christmas” and so far, that hasn’t worked at all. I’m going to go out now, into the snow and I’m going to try buying a new notebook, and writing “Christmas” on the front, and seeing if tomorrow I have a realistic plan for getting this thing fixed. It will probably work. Office supplies are definitely a good first step.