This year, Mom unveiled a dream of hers. She’s been buying gold and silver decorations on sale after the last few holidays. This was the year to put them all together. A gold and silver tree with matching wrapping paper.
We’re a modest family that doesn’t have many flights of fancy, and Mom, like many mothers, doesn’t often stand up and say, “This may be somewhat frivolous but I want it.” I’m delighted for her.
We’ll pack up our car on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and head over. They only live 15 minutes away, but we sleep over. Waking up alone on Christmas makes the whole thing rather pointless. It’s the special people that make it a celebration, after all.
Rainer makes sushi and I make side dishes. This year miso soup and sesame-crusted tofu over spinach. It may be odd, but nothing says ‘special’ like a platter of sushi in our family. Everyone dresses a little fancy. (A little. This is a tai chi/yoga/counter-culture family after all.) There will be a walk, games, talking. My sister and her husband will be there too, although they’ll arrive after the food and games. Just in time to stuff stockings and sleep, actually.
On Christmas morning the traditions are quite firm. There’s no free-for-all with paper flying and no one certain exactly what gift attaches to which tag. That sort of thing focuses entirely on what you’re getting, rather than the giving.
We grab our stockings and take them to the table. We go around the circle, drawing out the little things. In the toe of the stocking, always, is an orange. Then breakfast. I’m sure part of that is shrewd mothering on my mom’s behalf and part of it is her diabetes that doesn’t much like a change in schedule.
Only then do we start the presents. Again, we go around the circle. The kids used to work together to be Christmas elves, but Sandra (ever taller, ever funnier, ever more mature) has passed full responsibility to Matthias. Everyone watches while the present is opened. We all exclaim. The recipient gets up and hugs the giver. Then we move on to the next gift.
Isn’t that the best? Christmas day has plenty of time in it, after all. No one’s rushing anywhere. Everyone has been looking forward to the giving and the getting. So why hurry? Last year it took us til about noon to completely empty the bottom of the tree. Our four had made everything by hand, stocking stuffers included, and it was a big show.
This year we’ve bought a few of the presents, but the focus was still on making them. I’m so pleased by this. I noticed last year how much more than usual the focus was on giving; how excited the kids and Rainer were to see others unwrap the handmade secrets. It’s nearly time to unveil them again, and we’re nearly done. We consulted the big family check-list again last night (which has boxes to check but isn’t the list of what we’re actually making) – and after a little collective sewing before bed we have but one present left uncompleted. And I am so happy to say it is a present for which I have no responsibility.
A very merry of merriests to you all.