I’m still singing Silent Night to Avalon as I put her down to sleep, but before it’s too far in the past, I want to write down some memories from this Christmas.
The weekend before Christmas, Scott’s whole family came down to our house. It was cold and windy and rainy. The waves were huge and out of control. Driftwood was soaring across the water. The sky was grey and the clouds looked like wild horses filled with passion and danger. Our house was warm, especially since the garage-turned-nursery was just insulated and the oven was constantly on.
We played Reverse Charades, but I couldn’t stop mouthing the words and saying things like “Great concert!” when we were trying to act out ‘crowd surfing’. The boy’s team made an astonishing victory in the last rounds by successfully acting out ‘toe jam’ and ‘blowfish’. We ate homemade lasagna and woodfired pizza. We took a family Christmas card photo with two “shamen from the rainforest” named Michael and Daniel who were living by the beach in their truck. Scott sprained his ankle putting on his pajamas (I keep asking him when he’s going to think it’s funny too. So far he says “Not yet”).
We spent Christmas with my family. On Christmas Eve we took Avalon to mass for the first time. She was waving and sucking her hands, then she fell asleep on my chest in the baby wrap during the story of Christmas. I haven’t felt like Mary in the slightest this year. Most especially because I’m pretty sure I suffered from post-partum depression after Avalon was born, but as my baby slept on my chest during Oh Come All Ye Faithful and a picture of a hope-filled Mary with a sleeping baby Jesus appeared on the screen, I suddenly felt like we had something in common.
The priest did a special dedication to the new babies from 2015 and asked these children to stand with their families so everyone could see the new life and acknowledge it. I felt so proud and happy then that I know I will probably long to recreate this moment every year. I wish I could have hugged the lady sitting in front of us who turned around in her chair and smiled up at Avalon and I while clapping and exclaiming “Yay!”. This just struck me as the most selfless gesture and I am overcome by it every time I think about it. Maybe it’s self-involved, but I really needed that ‘yay!’ this year.
My sisters and I still held our tradition of going through the Christmas card basket and offering our own commentary on each one. My mom has a friend who has four sons and every year we search for their card to see if they’re all as good looking as we remember. It is pretty wild seeing the transformations of the families you know from year to year. I also kept my tradition of saying inappropriate things at the dinner table. I can’t repeat them all here, but I did tell my grandma that maybe she should go on a few dates in the new year. She said that even though my grandpa has been dead for over a year now, she would feel unfaithful to him if she was ever with anyone else. I love that. She also says that my grandpa still comes to her as a ghost or spirit of some sort. I love that too.
Christmas day the wind was blowing so hard offshore that it blew all the waves away. It also blew two trees down in my parent’s neighborhood. We’ll probably never have a white Christmas in coastal Southern California, but I will take a windy, rainy one any time.
I got a new carrier for Avalon for Christmas so I tested it out that evening, walking her around the wind-torn neighborhood with my dad and hobble-along Scott who was on crutches. When I’m with my family I feel almost invincible. Like I could tell any joke and it would be funny. Like I could produce my best writing material because I feel safe and inspired.
I wouldn’t say I love the commercialization of Christmas or the holidays, but I do like how the excessive promotion of it kind of unites us all in the celebration of something innately good: family, love, hope, tradition, life.
I hope you all are enjoying the gifts of this season too!