This year we are going away for Thanksgiving. I have cooked the traditional bird and had my family over for eighteen years. This year I decided to take a break. We are heading up to Tahoe and replacing the traditional Thanksgiving activities of turkey, family, and parade watching with arcade, dinner out (think Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo), gambling and parade watching (look, some small tradition needed to stay in tact).
This decision has turned out to be both freeing and a downward, spiraling out of control madness that is quickly changing the traditions of Christmas as well.
Since we are not going to be here for Thanksgiving I packed up all of the Halloween and fall decorations the day after Halloween. With an empty house on December 1st I did not feel sad or regretful, not even for one tiny minute…I was both joyous and elated. Then my husband and girls went away for a Sunday in mid November and left me with a day and night entirely to myself. Since the house was empty I decided to get the Christmas decorations down early and get it set up so it would all be done upon our return from Tahoe.
To do this my husband had to get down all the boxes from the attic. A process that takes him all day and one that is done with such an extreme amount of deep sighing, exasperation and grumbling that you would think he was preparing to head off to war. But we are 16 years in, he knows the drill, and it goes fairly smoothly. I also suggested he go ahead and put up the lights since we would be gone on the day after Thanksgiving which is when we traditionally fight about, I mean work on, hanging our lights.
So he put up the lights, got down all the boxes and then left for the day. Here it was…my day alone to gleefully put up my decorations, “Christmasfy” the house, and really do it up in style.
Only when I walked into the dining room and saw the 25 boxes instead of my usual glee and delight…I thought I might throw up. This was the first sign that maybe I was in a different place in life.
It all really seemed to be too much. But, I started in, pulling things out and separating, laying things out and starting to get a vision. Only my vision kept returning to the idea of…getting rid of most of it.
The second sign that things were going a little differently is that instead of listening to my traditional Christmas CD’s with Bing and friends filling the house with ideas of chestnuts, snow and happiness, I had Pink’s Greatest Hits CD blasting out. Nothing says Christmas like lyrics that scream of dysfunction and angst. For those that are concerned, I do listen to this CD a lot…it is small obsession right now, I do listen to it with my children, they do know all the words, even the bad ones…but we have had a long talk about how Pink is an artist and sometimes in the name of “art” and “your craft” a bad word is needed to make your point (please note the title of this writing…I am an artist, mush like Pink, thus my need to suffer for my “art” and “craft”).
After about an hour I called Corey and told him I was getting rid of a lot of Christmas stuff this year. There was too much and it was time to downsize. Honestly, his reaction was greater than if I had called and told him we won the lottery. I had not heard him this giddy and elated since the niners were in a winning season, and I think we all know how LONG that has been.
So I set about setting up some things and boxing up the rest for Craigslist. I listed the items and included the beautiful red and green plastic storage containers I keep it in too.
Naomi, who is not a traditionalist in any way and has been after me for years to get a fake tree and call it day, sensed my weakness and began calling every ten minutes throughout the day. Each call with the suggestion of really keeping it simple and getting a very small tree (think potted plant that you give as housewarming gifts size) and just sticking the ornaments back up in the attic for another year. In years past I would have been irritated with her, frustrated that she didn’t get me or understand my desire to have the real tree with all my sentimental ornaments. This time (with my pal Pink reminding me that I was rock star and still had my rock moves in the background), I remembered that last year the two older girls weren’t home to do the tree (and didn’t really care they missed it), the year before I had left it for them to do with a babysitter (and didn’t really care that I missed it), and most other years everyone would bail out after the first few minutes of “Oh remember this ornament?,” and I would be left alone to finish and get all the ornaments off the ground and onto the tree.
In the end there is stuff up, I am going to get a tree (a small one, although not potted plant small), and I did find the Bing CD’s as it turns out after a quick search on google that Pink does not have a F*%#ing Christmas album out yet (note to Pink…that would be a great title).
Listen, my girls are all in the Nutcracker, the school Christmas play (yes, we still call it a Christmas play NOT a winter performance), the church Christmas play (where I do not listen to Pink), and several holiday choir performances…hmmm? Maybe this is why I don’t have the energy for decorating. I still love Christmas, just maybe in a different way.
So, Christmas is changing, I’m changing, and that’s OK. I can change. Change is good. No worries, I haven’t changed completely…I didn’t throw out all of the girls’ Christmas art I have saved (although I thought about it, but with the announcement of Pink’s pregnancy I was feeling a little sentimental…key word root “mental”).
Upon returning from their day away not one child commented on the Christmas decorations that had been set up. Onward we go.