It’s only 3am and already I’ve been wide awake for about an hour. I’m not really sure what it was that woke me, but here I am just the same. As I contemplate whether or not I want a cup of coffee, I thought I’d take some time out in the quiet of the night to reflect on the end of one year, the beginning of the next, and the Christmas that didn’t quite feel like Christmas.
Honestly, I started out the month of November in a place where I was mentally very ready for Christmas. I was excited and absolutely in the spirit. The Halloween decorations came down and the Christmas decorations went up. I began planning out all of my holiday baking, starting with peanut clusters that I made in the Crock-Pot.
Thanksgiving came and went. While Thanksgiving use to be something I looked forward to each year, it’s hard to do so anymore. I love the food more than I can say, but my stomach doesn’t agree. Around the second week of December, my oldest daughter fell ill. When she tested positive for COVID, everyone in our home was forced to quarantine until just a couple of days before Christmas. It should have ended there, allowing us to return to life as usual but, exactly one week after my daughter, I tested positive as well. With temperatures outside well into the 70s, my sense of taste and smell missing, an inability to get out and shop for Christmas, and family drama that I had no desire to be a part of, my Christmas spirit faded.
Still, though, even when you aren’t in the mood to celebrate, you try to appear excited for your kids. My older children understood. I just wasn’t feeling up to it. A couple of days before Christmas, my husband took me to the doctor to retest because his family really wanted us to be able to attend the family gathering. When we returned to the house, my children greeted us at the door. They said they knew I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit, so they wanted to do something to change that. They had hung the stockings and cut out paper snowflakes. The snowflakes were hung on the windows and walls. It was such a simple, but equally sweet gesture.
In case you are wondering, I decided to get a cup of coffee after all. I love my Honeyduke’s mug. Don’t you?
Since I tested negative and no one else in the home was testing positive (we were very careful not to expose others), my husband and I decided to hurry up and get some Christmas shopping done. We were delighted to see that, since it was Christmas Eve, most stores had already marked things down. Even the toys were half-priced! Within two hours, our shopping was complete, stocking stuffers included. We hurried home, got things wrapped, and spent the rest of the afternoon playing Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker together.
Christmas morning came and I was far too anxious to let anyone sleep in, so I woke everyone up. This was the first Christmas that Presley would be fully aware of what was going on; the first where she would actually open her own presents and interact with them.
We all have little traditions, whether they’ve been carried down from yesteryear or they began with us and our own children. For me, it’s wrapping paper tucked into the bottoms of the stockings. I never use gift labels at Christmas. Instead, I use a different wrapping paper for each person and I place a small square of that paper in the bottom of the corresponding stocking. My kids have begun doing it too. They wrap all of the gifts intended for myself or my husband. I started doing this when my oldest daughter was about five years old. Without labels on gifts, it guaranteed that they’d care about their stockings just as much as what was under the tree.
The exception this year, of course, was Presley. She’s hardly old enough to care about her stocking. With that in mind, we wrapped all of her gifts with Baby Shark wrapping paper. She’s such a huge fan of that adorable little yellow shark that we knew she’d get excited when she saw that paper. Sure enough, she tore right into it! Much to our amusement, she also tried to put it back together, to rewrap the gifts that she had just opened.
After all of the gifts were opened and the house was cleaned back up, we all got dressed and headed out to the family Christmas gathering. I cannot stress enough how unenthusiastic I was about going. There was drama this year and I enjoy my quiet, drama-free life at home far too much. Still, we went. My mother-in-law was more than enough reason to make an appearance.
Even though there were family members who showed up with a chip on their shoulders and a passive-aggressive axe to grind, we made the best of it. I couldn’t taste anything, but I ate anyway. We opened our gifts, helped with clean-up, hugged everyone, and headed back home to enjoy the rest of the day at home. The weather was beautiful, so the kids rode their brand new bicycles while I cooked Christmas supper and my husband built toys that didn’t come pre-assembled.
All in all, it genuinely was a wonderful day.
The rest of the year past relatively uneventfully. Kids played to their hearts content. My oldest daughter began learning how to play the guitar that she received from my mom. She’s hoping to learn how to play Taylor Swift songs. Taylor Swift is the entire reason that she wanted a guitar to begin with.
So, here we are in the new year. I’m already planning out my garden and flower beds for the coming Spring despite that cold weather that seemed to come so suddenly after what has been a rather warm holiday season. I will definitely be planting more tomatoes this year. They did so well last year and we ended up with so many. This past growing season, all of the sproutlings that I purchased from the local nursery turned out to be spaghetti squash despite being labeled as other things like summer squash, zucchini, and cucumber, so I think I’ll start from seeds this year to avoid that odd mix-up.
I hope your holidays were joyful and that you found something in this past year to be thankful for.
Happy New Year!