Since my daughter is only twenty months old (today! Happy birthday, V!!!), I figure I have some time to start making holiday traditions. I sure hope so, because I don’t want watching the Rose Parade in my husband’s sweatpants while my daughter puts dinosaur stickers on my face to become our New Year’s morning tradition. Being pregnant, I sure did miss my Rose Parade mimosa or coffee with Bailey’s (or, let’s be honest, usually both). Odie was sweet enough to abstain as well on my behalf. At least, I tell myself that’s why. He’s so sick with this virus we can’t stop passing back and forth that he slept on the couch lest his constant coughing wake V.
So, traditions… Everybody seems to have them. I’m wary of those people whose holiday traditions are so elaborate and carefully constructed so as to show holiday perfection to the world. Then again, I know some awesome, authentic people who always put fake holly on their mantles and hang lights from their houses. I don’t think they’re trying to put up some fake front on the outside to the neighbors to hide deep dysfunction within. But maybe they do such a great job, even I am fooled. I remember holiday traditions from my childhood. We shopped for a tree together. We decorated it together. I think that cookies were sometimes baked. They never seemed to taste as good as they looked like they should. We left cookies and milk out for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer. Do reindeer even eat carrots? I think we all assume they are like horses or donkeys. As a child, I never lived in a house that had a chimney, so I fretted about Santa being able to deliver the presents. When my dad explained that they hid a key for Santa so he could let himself in, I changed my worry scenario to someone else finding the key, breaking in and stealing my presents. Oh, and of course murdering my whole family. A childhood with generalized anxiety disorder was always a ferris wheel of fun.
We opened one present on Christmas Eve, and the rest on Christmas morning. In the morning, we always started with stockings before presents. Back then, I was so impatient for my parents to get their damned coffee so we could start, but now that I’m the sleep deprived mom, I totally get it. Coffee is like life. I still drink a cup from time to time, even though I’m pregnant. I didn’t touch the stuff with my first pregnancy. I can already see the ways I’m going to relax (a.k.a. lower my standards) with this second baby.
Once my parents divorced, the new traditions started. We spent Christmas Eve with Dad and Christmas Day with Mom. Now that we all have our own families and children, this is still sort of expected by my parents, but I find it harder every year to try to make everyone happy. Everyone in my family and Odie’s family is divorced. Instead of just parents and in-laws, I have Parents Part A, Parents Part B, and In-laws Part A and In-laws Part B. Now, my parents are friendly and we can sometimes combine the Parents Parts A and B into one big celebration and check all of them off the list at once. But Odie’s parents had a bitter, acrimonious divorce with court battles and such, and they have only seen each other once in the 30 years since they were last in court fighting over little Odie. We aren’t going to have any pictures of family harmony around the egg nog bowl with them any time soon. With only two weeks off for Christmas break, it would be very easy with all of these splintered factions of family to spend all of our vacation meeting obligations instead of having fun. So we made some tough calls, told some people, “Not this year,” and since we’re family, there was much understanding and forgiveness and “We’ll see you next time.”
I’m just kidding. There was absolutely no understanding.
I’m thankful that the holidays are over and that I still have a week off. Make that a week off WITH DAY CARE. Now THIS is a holiday tradition I can get used to. Monday morning, Odie is going to drop V off at preschool, and I am going to STAY IN BED. Then, he is going to come home and get back into bed with me, wake me up with his freezing cold feet, and we are going to be alone together. We are going to go out to lunch and… I cannot believe I am even typing this, my hands are shaking… we are going to see a movie. As in, go to a theater, buy popcorn, turn our phones off (okay, to vibrate), and watch a recently released film on a big screen. If you don’t have kids, this seems like no big deal, but if you do, then you feel me, dog. You feel me.
After that, we are going to do whatever we feel like doing for the five days we have off together. We’ll pick V up at 3:00 and have our usual afternoon and evening with her, of course, but Odie and I are looking forward with devilish glee to COUPLE TIME. And not couples THERAPY time, the latter being no fun whatsoever.
I often look back on my last pregnancy and marvel at how easy I had it. Or even better, BEFORE I was even pregnant, how easy I had it! I remind myself of that frequently because next Christmas, I’ll have two kids, and more than likely I will look back on today and think, “Bitch, you didn’t know how easy you had it!” But on some level, I DO know. And I am going to go sit in a bubble bath for a while (not too hot, of course) and make a memory that I can look back on in a year, when I turn to Odie and say, “I can’t believe that last New Year’s Day I had time to sit in a bubble bath.”
Happy New Year, everyone!