I’m a huge fan of traditions.
Think of it as the icing on the cake for a Type A personality. There maybe a story or a reason behind why it started, but things have always been done this way (and sidenote: I like it this way), so we’ll continue to do it. I have a couple of favourite traditions around the holiday season, the few I’ve kept through my Grinch-y years. The first: Christmas Eve dinner is always pizza, because by the time Santa would get to our house he’s probably sick of milk and cookies, and would really like some pizza and a cold pepsi. I never noticed but it’s funny that Santa eats his pizza the exact same way my Dad does. The second: Mom’s baking and watching Forrest Gump with her (editing out the one F-word for her), and reciting the lines frequently. It truly is my favourite Christmas movie (and yes, it’s because there is no Christmas in the movie).
And then there were things that aren’t exactly traditions, but it’s just what was done. For example: when I was kid Christmas Eve was spent with Dad’s side of the family, Christmas day was for my immediate family, and Boxing Day was for Mom’s side. Of course, the important part was visiting of the grandparents … so when Dad’s mom died those Christmas Eves stopped and after Mom’s dad died those Boxing Days eventually stopped too. None of it has been helped by people moving away and being all over the place – I moved to the southern most city in our province, my sister moved out of the GTA and started her own family … and while coming home for Christmas has been an important thing for me, each year becomes more difficult to make it a reality.
This year had it’s own challenges. Christmas is not near a weekend, so I first needed to find out whether I would be required to be at work for Christmas Eve. Having someone new in my life meant checking in with his schedule and his family, and because his Mom lives on the other side of the world we needed to make time for her visit. And no vacation days this year (and so many people already taking time off) meant I am scheduled to report for work on the 27th. Meaning my window to go home for Christmas was barely three days. But I could make it.
As things would go, mere days before I planned to buy a ticket to travel home I spoke with my father, who proposed a new idea: they would come here. I wouldn’t have to travel, I wouldn’t have to be away from BF or Owl, I could stay home and sleep in my own bed for all my days off, I would still get to see my family for Boxing Day. But there are downsides too … no visit with my sister, or her children, and – for the first time in my life – I would not spend Christmas Day with anyone in my family.
I’ve been reflecting on this a lot in the last few days. On the one hand – saving money! not traveling on a packed train! sleeping in my own bed! not being away from BF! On the other hand – less time with my family. not seeing some family all together. missing out on other holiday traditions that I might not think of until the actual moment I’m missing them (namely, Mom’s baking and cooking). There are pros and cons to this and I’ve been internally wrestling a lot of thoughts and feels on everything.
This year has been a year of growth. It was my original goal on New Years Day 2018 and it’s one I think I followed through with very well. I knew I would be officially divorced sooner than later this year and I was determined to forge a new identity once that was done and that chapter of my life officially closed. Not necessarily one others could see or particularly notice, I wasn’t looking for a radical change of self, but I wanted to become my person, my own adult. To start making decisions for me because it’s what I wanted, not what someone else wanted or what I thought they wanted. While I didn’t plan on getting into a relationship so quickly, I have found it has exposed some cracks in that plan … places where I can still grow, where I still have work to do. Most importantly I’m learning to let myself be vulnerable around this person … to not work so hard to hold up appearances because I can’t. He is the first relationship I’ve been in where that person is around all the time … and I’m letting my guard down a lot faster, and being more authentic, and looking forward to forging new traditions.
But new comes when the old gives way. As much as I have loved these traditions with my family, perhaps it’s time to start new ones with my new and growing family. It occurs to me that maybe my parents had similar traditions when they were younger, and as they started their family new traditions had to be born to accommodate their new lives. Such is my reality now. While my job is steadily making it’s way to potential life-long career, it means the likelihood of my leaving Windsor becomes less and less. It means I could be putting down even stronger roots by starting my own family here in the next few years and that travelling for Christmas day with a baby becomes less likely. Maybe with better planning my folks will be able to travel by train instead of driving and they can come visit for a little bit (until driving or high-speed trains become available). Maybe it’s time that I keep some long-standing traditions (like pizza dinner!) and start new ones with BF (Christmas video games day in pajamas and possibly a turkey dinner?).
This year there are no presents under my Christmas tree for various reasons and I’m okay with that. One day there may be tons of presents for a little one to open, and I’m excited for that future and possibility. But right now while I’ll be missing tons of people I love on Christmas day and thinking of them, I will be spending the day with my family … my new growing family … and I’m happy with that. It’s time to start the next phase of my life and I’m excited to share that all with you as it happens.