The first Christmas we got to spend in our house in Milwaukee was crazy. I had just given birth to my first baby a few weeks before and didn’t feel up to travel, so the whole family came to us. My parents, brothers and in-laws, all my uncles, aunts, and cousins, all came to our home to meet Aden and celebrate the holidays and have a party for my brothers who were born between Christmas and New Year’s. Our house couldn’t quite hold everyone and when we lined up all the available tables to seat people for dinner we couldn’t open the front door. It was hectic but it was great. My Christmases as a child were big fun gatherings, too, and I was happy that the holiday event had come to Milwaukee.
But as the generation of cousins I grew up with began splitting
obligations with new families, and people moved farther and farther
away, things have become quieter and quieter. I’m no longer the
relative with the smallest children to complicate travel. And Ian is
home now. When he was in Iraq there was a distinct need to have
additional people here on big holidays to help fill the void. This year
was set to be the quietest yet, but I didn’t realize how quiet.
The plan was for just my parents to drive out on Christmas Eve so we
could enjoy the actual day together, and my aunt and uncle from Ohio
would come out for a few days afterward. The irony is that when we were
hosting the masses we lived in a house about half the size of the one we inhabit now.
We finally have proper space to fit everyone at the dining table
without causing a fire exit hazard, and now there isn’t even a need for
the leaf in the table. It’s strange how that happened.
Unfortunately, even that meager plan has been pruned down further at the last moment. My father isn’t well and
my mother called this morning to tell me he was in too much pain to
make the drive. I feel so helpless, and so does my mom. They’ve run
every test they can run and can’t find the cause of the problem, so now
he just has to wait and rest and take Tylenol until he can get in to see
a specialist next week. Some days are better than others, and today
proved to be one of the bad ones. Part of me feels we should go there,
but it’s a long drive and a family with three kids is not conducive to
the rest my dad needs so there isn’t much point. So I will stay here
and worry and we will have Christmas morning with just my little family
In some ways this makes me sad, because obviously I’d like to see
more of the people I love, but my little family is wonderful. I have
such an embarrassment of riches to be thankful for–my three sweet and healthy kids, my husband home safe and sound, a house I enjoy waking up in every day, food on the table, a job I love…. There is nothing I lack and I am profoundly aware of how fortunate
I am. I’m concerned for my parents and wish I could help, but to feel
sorry for ourselves is ridiculous. It’s not the Christmas I was
picturing, but there is nothing wrong with what we have.
What we have is different from what we’re accustomed to, but it’s
peaceful and nice. Ian and I took turns going out to the violin store
to finish some work there while the kids stayed home and played. They
pretended to sled in the living room for a long time, which is one of
the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
stollen to put out for Santa.
And do you know why I’m writing this blog post? Because I’m waiting
for my children to pass out soundly enough that it will be safe to go
downstairs and help myself to a piece of stollen and a carrot or two,
and then stuff everyone’s stockings. They are so excited! Quinn is
almost asleep at my feet, and I can hear Aden and Mona tossing and
turning down the hall.
This is the first year we’ve had a real mantel
to hang stockings from, and we didn’t need to rearrange the world to
make room for a tree in our new living room so it’s been a pleasure to
have it up without it being in the way for a change. The new house is
fun to decorate, so we have a ton of lights up this year. It’s
beautiful and fun and I can’t wait to see the kids’ faces in the morning
when they finally get to open their presents. Quinn told me several
times today in what order he plans to open them. The one in the candy
cane paper is first, then the one in the reindeer paper, then red one,
then the one with the snowflakes on it….
but I think I found them some things they will enjoy. I heard people
ask each of my kids this week what they want for Christmas and they all
said they just want to be surprised and they will like whatever they
get. How can you not want to give presents to people like that?
So we are having a quiet, private little Christmas. It’s a different
kind of joy. And it is miraculous.
Whatever any of you are doing
today, I wish you peace and all the love your heart can hold. Happy