Being half Swedish, Christmas Eve is when the big dinner happens. Christmas is reserved for the frivolities of opening presents and playing with the new toys (a nod to the non-swedish half). I spent some time looking back with fondness (?) on Christmas Eves of yore...
There was one Christmas eve that I accidentally double-dosed myself on cough medicine and was fairly well stoned on Christmas morning.
There was another Christmas eve that I forgot allergy medicine and had some quite significant breathing difficulties.
Yet another time I had recently given birth to a child (4 days prior) and had just been released from hospital after sever postpartum pre-eclampsia (who knew that was even a thing!) and after being told to "take it easy" I made several batches of caramel rolls and attended three Christmas celebrations in a single day (or possibly two). Then I ended up going back to labor and delivery a week later because my blood pressure was in the red zone and they thought I might need to be readmitted.
So remind me again why I think of Christmas as my favorite holiday?
Anyway, this Christmas eve I found myself to be remarkably zen. Okay, I actually told spouse that I felt like I was on The Valium because I seemed unnaturally calm. I was not prepared. I did not care. Numb, blunted, far-away.
There was not a real tree (other than my home-made one), I had not decorated a single thing. My children had not chosen presents for anyone. My house was not prepared for visitors. I didn't even know if we would be having visitors.
Then my daughter woke with a fever, meaning that things were not going to go as I had planned. I would be going to dinner with family in absence of Spouse and daughter. Which for some reason made me Super Sad. Or Super Anxious. Super Something. And not a good super, either.
Why? Don't know. It was not rational. Back to the fact that I was seeing people that I like. I went from being concerned that we leave as soon as possible to dragging my feet... planning to leave home later and later.
Then when I did leave, I managed to take a wrong turn at every available intersection. I was driving from one familiar place to another and managed to get hopelessly turned around. Probably on purpose. But on a subconscious level.
Things were fine. Children had fun. There was dinner and people and presents and stuff. I am afraid that I was a dull, lifeless, cheerless blob. Or at least that's how I felt. Maybe it was just the absence of being hyper-worried that everything had to be perfect.
Or this could be the flip-side of the all-or-nothing Christmas.
Either I was determined to have everything turn out just like I want, or I give up completely and decide that since things aren't going to run according to plan... screw it.
Whatever. I was not Anxious. Not Sad. Not Super Irritated. Just a bit floaty. Maybe that's part of why I was nervous and reluctant to go without Spouse.
Here is how I would choose to interpret things, if I could manage to convince myself that it was true: I embraced fully the Quaker idea that no one day is holier than any other day, so this whole Christmas Eve thing was just another time to have a dinner with family and break bread in company with one another.
Instead of this whole huge deal that had to compete with decades, if not centuries of family tradition. And the stories. And the legends. And the Perfect Gift or the Perfect Food or the Perfect Company that had likely never been as amazing as anyone remembers.
Gosh this sounds cheery. I'd better sign off before it gets any worse.
Grateful Crap: time off
(stayed up too late doing something... oh yes, embroidering beaded name on daughter's stocking. There was no name the first year because she was not supposed to be born until after Christmas. And then I never got around to it until this year when she cried that she didn't have a stocking because her name wasn't on any of them)
Quaker, teacher, parent,