Christmas Eve Traditions, Past & Present

"Mistakes that Good Parents Make" or "Burning the Teddy Bear"

Christmas Present ... as in Current, Today, Now, 2005

Today started with a poppyseed bagel and goat cheese with peppercorns. The goat cheese is made locally by a man who has goats. Of course! We bought the cheese in a small cheese shop that I love. The proprietor is a cheese aficianado. He sells cheese the way wine sellers sell fine wines. He is knowledgeable and friendly. Most any cheese in the shop that can be sliced is available for tasting. He recommends cheeses and describes how they taste. I don't drink wine but I love cheese.

Truth be told I shouldn't be eating much cheese but recently, after having some health problems, I learned that my allegedly healthy diet may have been the cause of one of my health problems. Now I am less stringent about how I eat. I am thinking that it's possible that one of these days they're going to tell us that high cholesterol is caused by an insufficient consumption of chocolate and they were wrong all along about some saturated fats. I'm not to the point of being a nutritional wildwoman in my change in eating habits but if I want cheese and even some chocolate and an occasional french fry or three, I EAT THEM! Today I have dined on lovely goat cheese and a Pina Colada juice as well as Indian Mysore coffee. No day can start better than that!

I have a chocolate layer cake for later. For after we eat sandwiches with sweet Lebanon bologna, horseradish cheddar cheese, whole wheat bread. For after we eat the chicken with curry, cumin, cayenne pepper and ground cashews in a yogurt based sauce. This is very good!

Today didn't really start with the food though. I neglected to mention that I came downstairs in my bathrode, turned on the computer, and checked for my email and internet messages just like how many million people in the world today? This is a daily tradition now that we take for granted. The email doesn't stop for Christmas or any other holiday. If we had a major power failure, it would stop but how often does that happen?

Last night I corresponded through email with online friends. The sister of one friend was visiting her. My friend lives down south. We've never met. My friend, her husband, and her sister were all on different computers at the same time in the same house on Christmas Eve. This is funny! The sister commented on it, on how we were communicating with each other on Christmas Eve on our computers. Our traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas extend to hanging out with each other on our electronic boxes. Most of us have never met. This is a nice thing too. Few who have computers need ever be completely alone if they are comfortable socializing through their blue or grey or screensaved windows on the world.

I posted last night about Christmas traditions of over 20 years ago that ended when I left the circle of that large noisy Italian family. Now I have in-laws who live a three hour drive away. They are on good terms with their son, my husband, but interestingly the three of them, my son and his parents, don't get together for Christmas day or eve. They leave it loose as to when they'll celebrate Christmas. Some years it hasn't been till spring that we've gotten there to exchange presents, eat meals together, and catch up on stories. One year it wasn't till October! My in-laws this time are endlessly patient. They are so patient that I feel guilty about how late we get there! Yet I appreciate their patience.

My mother-in-law loves to shop and find great bargains. She loves to buy us presents. By the time we see her, whenever we see her, she has bags of presents for us. Some are useful. Some less so. I know she has great fun shopping for them and buying them. She loves to share the story of the find. How much it was priced before a markdown and how little she paid. She is an excellent shopper. One of my great regrets is that I have never gone to shop with her at all the stores where she finds her bargains. But I am not a big shopper. So the regret is in fantasy only. The reality might not have been anything like the fantasy of the shopping trips I have missed. Did that make sense? I hope so.

Our Christmases these days are loosely planned. We decide just days before THE day what we are going to do, if anything. Sometimes we must seem to be drab people to others who love the flash and glitz of holidays if they knew us well enough to know what we are doing. I agree. One person's drab is another's joy, peace, and quiet.

Some Christmases, like this one, I don't put up a tree and decorate. Some Christmases, like this one, we don't go to visit anyone, no one visits us, and we're satisfied with each other's company and the more remote company of internet friends and strangers. These days this is not so different from the Christmases of a lot of people in the world. Some might even find it enviable. We've had Christmases where we have done less. One Christmas a few years ago I spent part of the day having myself photographed by my husband as I stood outside in the snow, arms outstretched, with a sheet over my head so that I could have a picture of myself as a ghost to share with my online friends. I may have that jpg file around here some place to share. I'll have to look. Here it is!

Ghost Snicks, Christmas 2002

The Ghost of Christmas Past
From Christmas 2002

So we have no presents to unwrap today, no children to watch unwrapping presents, no need to drive somewhere else for dinner, no stress, no big party, not even any church. I haven't turned the TV on yet. I am still in my bathrobe and it is 11:30 AM. The computer has taken the most of my time so far and it's been enjoyable. Some people might think I should be unhappy because our Christmas is so different from the projected ideal. To me it feels like a fine Christmas. I'm happy with it. I've enjoyed the other kinds of Christmases too, the kind where there are lots of live people and children and rush and bustle and others cooking food and lights and the sound of wrapping paper being crinkled and Christmas music and conversation and the smells of roasting ham or turkey or tomato sauce and pine trees and baby diapers and alcohol and cigarettes and beer and wine and ... uh oh .... let's stay away from the memories of the beer and wine and what happens then! Quick! Think of the decorated trees and the friendly people and the nice aunts and uncles who kiss on the cheek and hug and give great presents! Hmmmm.

It's a fine fine Christmas and not a tradition because here our tradition is loose. We have a tradition of no traditions. Each Christmas is its own day, forms its own memories. Each Christmas is its own present to us and may or may not be a surprise. We like our Christmases to be like a wrapped present which isn't figured out till you take the paper off and then you find out what it is. The answer may be different or it may be the same but the answer is never known till it's Christmas.

Merry Christmas!



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