In our blended family, I have always let Christmas be something that we anticipate at home, but celebrate at Gramma’s. We bring out only token decorations, and these must go up surreptitiously, sneaking past Chris’ cynicism, until they find their home in a subtle locale.
We bake a lot of cookies, swapping dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters for snowman-shaped cutters, and I love to creatively wrap the gifts that I have collected for our loved ones. The Christmas music comes on December first and stays on until December 26, and I map out a schedule of all of the appropriate specials for me and Bee to watch, curled up on the couch together under a blanket, eschewing her normal bedtime so that we can watch beloved claymation moments from my girlhood squeeze their way into hers.
But this year, it just doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe it is that we now have two girls, and I desire for them to embrace, to be embraced by, our special traditions and family customs. Or maybe it’s that I have returned to work and am away from my girls at the exact time of year that we focus most on family and being together, and I just need to cling to whatever lines I can grab hold of right now, hoping to be towed back in.
Whatever it is, I am finding myself seized by big, glowing yearnings that had only just slightly glimmered in the past. I want to put cute pictures of my children on holiday cards and then actually mail them to our loved ones. I want to take my kids to sit on Santa’s lap, and then pay outrageous sums for a blurry picture of them, arms outstretched, pleading for parental rescue. I want to make homemade hot chocolate and put it in my pretty mason jars adorned with ribbon.
I want a Christmas tree, dammit. And I want to put Christmas ornaments and Hanukkah dreidles on it, and I want little feathered birds to peek out from behind its branches, and I want to shoo the cat away from it and keep babies from crawling around it, and I don’t want my house to pass idly by the holiday season just because we wake up Christmas morning somewhere else.
I want cozy nights with fat snowflakes falling quietly on our street, and late mornings with babies in footed pajamas clamouring around while I make French toast and coffee.
With my sister preparing Hanukkah celebrations and Chris’ family where we go for (admittedly, a lovely, lovely) Christmas, I feel like I have outsourced the holidays. As much as everybody’s efforts do nothing but bring joy and smiles, I want to do more this year. I want to wrap my girls in the festive spirit and have them look forward to more than just going to someone else’s house and unwrapping presents.
I want them to remember the delicious smells coming from their own home; to groan (and then smile) when I line them up for a family photo; to know that every year, Bubby does that and Gramma does that, and Mummy does this. I want their favourite part of the holidays to be the time we spend together.
And to know that the time we spend with them is better than anything we could ever find under the tree.