I have such fond memories of Christmas. I grew up in Michigan, which is often a winter wonderland this time of year. My Mom and Dad raised eight kids in this tiny home just outside of Detroit:
I guess my parents (or, um, Santa) didn’t care for the exhausting strategy of waiting for all eight of us to go to bed Christmas Eve – then staying up into the wee hours to organize presents for us on Christmas morning. Instead, we had a tradition of going to Christmas Eve mass with Mom. Dad would stay home (not fair) and wait for the big bearded guy in red to show up. We’d come home from church that night to find tons of gifts under the tree. Early Santa ruled!
I honestly have no idea how my parents did it – without a whole lot of money and so many children. I mean, wow.
Now cue the sad music. When I was 15, just before Christmas, my parents announced they were moving to Florida. I was the youngest and the only kid they were dragging with them. My siblings were old enough to decide to stay put. We were moving right after the holiday. That was my worst Christmas ever. I vividly remember secretly guzzling loads of white wine and crying devastating tears with my sisters under the mistletoe. I couldn’t believe I had to leave everyone. I’m laughing now because it just dawned on me that this may be one of the reasons why I hate white wine. It ruined Christmas! 😉
We moved down south, but that didn’t stop me from going north to Detroit every Christmas – with or without my parents.
As soon as I could (age 21), I got out of Florida and moved to NYC, and then later Los Angeles. But still, I’d finagle time off work and book a very expensive flight home to Detroit for the holiday.
I even left a job, in part, because my boss was insisting I’d have to work Christmas. (I’m dedicated, guys. Where’s my Hallmark movie?)
I just couldn’t imagine spending the holiday anywhere else but back home with my family.
I met my boyfriend five years ago and he loooves going home with me as well. It’s a pretty wild time with my huge family – which keeps expanding. All my siblings have kids. And now THEIR kids have kids. I did a quick count (yes, I had to do math), we’re in the 30+ range of nieces/nephews, great-nieces/nephews (nuts, right?).
My Mom moved back to Michigan after my Dad died. Over the years, I started to wonder what Christmas would be like when she was gone, too. Would we still all get together? When the Matriarch dies, a family can fall apart pretty easily. I’ve seen it happen with others. The mama bear keeps the family coming together.
Then. It happened. My Mom died a few months after Christmas nearly 4 years ago. The past three Christmases have been fairly normal. Some family members who live out-of-state alternate the years they come in. But this year, Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
For the first time ever, one of my sisters (the Matriarch successor – in my eyes) is going to Minnesota for the holiday to be with some of her kids and grandkids. This is big doings. That means my sister, my nephew and his wife, and my niece and her family aren’t making it in. Another niece and her family will be out of the country. Another niece lives out here in LA, she’s not coming in. My brother and his family in Arizona aren’t coming. I could go on…
My point? The seismic wave has shifted my family’s Christmas fault line. Do they sell emergency kits for this on Amazon?
I get it. Life evolves. Nothing is permanent. Things change. Even Santa has to adjust his route from time to time.
My siblings now have their own little inner families. They want to start their own traditions. I have my own little family, too (me, Jason, and my dog, Rayla):
We’re sticking with the plan and heading home (to whoever’s left) for the holiday. I’m not saying this will be a bad or even sad Christmas. It will just be different. A quieter one for sure.
The good news is CHANGE happens to be my word for 2020. I’ve spent an awful lot of time fearing it. I’ve resisted change like a real son of a gun. I’ve made a big decision to embrace the hell out of it in the next year.
Change brings us to new places. It teaches us new ways of being. It opens new doors. It challenges our spirit. Change: I embrace you. Bring it. Even at Christmas.
But Santa, I’ll still see you in Detroit.
Julie Slater, aka THE LOTUS FLOWER, looooves music. Besides being a rabid fan and musician, you may recognize her voice. She’s a voiceover artist and audiobook narrator (www.julieslater.com). She’s DJ’d on top stations: 88.5 FM and 100.3 the Sound in LA and 92.3 K-Rock in NYC following Howard Stern.
When she’s not at concerts, you can usually find her meditating or in the kitchen. She has a slight obsession with deep, dark cabernets & small batch whiskey. Namaste!