I’ll have a blue Christmas

This past weekend, I was invited to a Christmas dinner hosted by friends & family of my sister in law. These events are always a little lot awkward for me. First, I’m one step removed from the crowd being my in laws, so it’s not really family to me. And second, I feel like I’m consistently playing the part of third wheel. Not that I normally have a problem tagging along. I just don’t want to get to a point where it’s defining me when introductions are made. And we’re slowly on our way down that path.

Given those trepidations though, the visit went over fairly well. The food was delicious. The conversation was… interesting. And the company was friendly.

But during arts & crafts hour, what’s becoming an increasingly depressing annual realization hit me.

I’m just not a huge fan of Christmas.

After dinner, the host brought out a bowl of red plastic Christmas ornaments and silver Sharpies. Our goal, if we chose to accept it, was to write on an ornament “It feels like Christmas when…” and finish it with our own personal experiences, our name, and the date. So I sat there with my pen and ornament and thought. And thought. And thought.

I legitimately couldn’t come up with anything.

Our family never put up the tree at a certain time. We didn’t decorate the house as a family. We typically go to the same places, like grandparents’ houses, for Christmas. But because I grew up with divorced parents, sometimes one side of the family was before Christmas and the other side was afterwards. Then next year, we’d switch. So even though they were the same locations, it wasn’t the same schedule. We don’t eat certain foods. We don’t meet at church. And now, with stores setting up for Christmas after Halloween, it really doesn’t “feel” like Christmas when all of the decorations show up.

I finally settled on “It feels like Christmas when I first hear the Salvation Army bells” after a solid 10 minutes deliberating. And eventually, we found out the host had made us make the ornaments so that she could give them to my brother & sister in law for their first Christmas. Very cool idea!

Back to the holidays though…

I feel like everything’s so over saturated now. I seem to remember the traditions being that Black Friday unofficially kicked off the Christmas season. People put up their trees after Thanksgiving. The stores brought out the gifts and candy and decorations. Radio stations slowly converted over to Christmas music. But now, Halloween seems to be the start of all things holiday. We go from ghosts and zombies straight to Santa. And then by the end of the next two months, you’re completely sick of anything red and white.

Realistically, my expectations and views have changed and play a big part as well. As a kid, it seems like there’s an endless supply of toys. Anyone under the age of 15 can come up with a Christmas list a quarter of a mile long on the spot. You could stop a kid on the side of the road tomorrow and get 10 ideas out of them in the first breath. But now, as an almost-30-year-old, I’ve got nothing. Even the big, expensive, fancy toys, I’ve already got. I own a computer, a laptop, a Nook, a 40 inch TV, and a really nice camera. I just moved into an apartment but I’ve got a bed, sofa, bedroom furniture, TV stand, etc, etc, etc. And I’m pretty peculiar about decorating my own place, so I’ve tried to turn people away from getting things like pictures or curtains or furniture. My best idea? A vacuum cleaner that can pick up Harper’s hair that gets scattered all over the floor.

Someone forgot to tell me when that part of growing up happens. Because I’m not liking it one bit that my best Christmas idea on my list is a vacuum cleaner.

Also, as a kid, you get what seemed like months off at Christmas time. You got to goof off and play and sleep late and do nothing for a solid week before Christmas and another week afterwards. I think that prepares you for the hecticness that is the few chaotic days around Christmas itself. Now, with a full time job (and no leave since I’m new) three and a half hours away from home, I’ll spend Friday night on the road to Chapin, Monday on the road to my grandparents’ house, Tuesday on the road back to Chapin, and Wednesday on the road back to Raleigh. Busy, busy, busy.

So grown up Christmases have definitely lost their appeal. Where do you get the little kid Christmases back?

However, if there’s one thing I still enjoy and love about Christmas every year, it’s coming up with my themed “wrapping material” as my brother likes to call it. If you remember, last year was maps as my wrapping paper since I had just gotten back from being on the road for several months. I pulled out all the stops and even made my own bows. Pictorial proof may be seen here.

This year, my grandmother guessed a map of North Carolina. That’s too much like last year, so I couldn’t repeat myself. I have a new job but I’ve done office supplies using rubber bands. masking tape, and manilla envelopes before. I moved but I’ve used moving boxes and shipping labels before too.

So what else is new?

Two things…

    

My state – North Carolina – and my sister in law – an NC State alum!

And I’ve already gotten props on the bows… because apparently guys don’t do that? Who know!

It was actually surprisingly easy to find the wrapping paper. And there was almost no debating on what I was going to do. So all in all, it was an easy year to figure out. Thanks to the Go Pack Store, which just so happens to be a couple of miles away from the apartment.

And because I was close to the ground taking pictures, Harper felt the need to get in on the action too.

    

And last but not least, the closest thing to a Christmas card picture as you’ll get from me this year! Enjoy!

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6 Responses to I’ll have a blue Christmas

  1. Karen says:

    Ah… Those grown up Christmases where you haven’t quite shifted from being a kid to being an adult. I think many people go through that, myself included. (Now I have my own kids so I’m definitely the adult.)

    You’re missing the point of Christmas now though. It’s no longer about what you get or how much time you get off. It’s about what you can give to others and about those long drives just so you can see the ones you love. It’s about seeing the joy in other people’s faces when they see you or they open up a special present you got just for them.

    Try to enjoy your family, especially your parents. You never know how many more Christmases you will have with them. Don’t let even one go to waste! And remember that Christmas is all about love, not the stuff. The stuff is fun, but if the people weren’t there to share it then it wouldn’t matter.

    Merry Christmas!

    • I think some of what I was trying to say was lost in transition from the head to the blog.

      I definitely do appreciate the family aspect of it. It’s why I’m making the trips all over SC and NC instead of just camping out by myself somewhere.

      And I also didn’t intend for it to seem like I was only about the stuff. That’s part of my cynicism about Christmas to begin with – it’s too much about what to get, what to ask for, and the impossible reality of constantly trying to one up everyone else. Everyone always seems to be vying for the best gift, which means everything gets bigger and more out of control. It starts out as “I’ll get this for so and so” and quickly turns into “Well, I spent X on this person, so I need to go shopping again to even out that person.” I’d much rather not do gifts at all and just spend the time visiting.

      But I’ll make it through this one and come out on the other side just fine!

      Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂

      • Karen says:

        I totally agree about the gifts! I like getting gifts for kids, but I wish we could drop the adult gifts. I personally like Thanksgiving better because there are no gifts.

        Enjoy your apartment, your adorable dog and your long drives to family!!

  2. Bethany says:

    If it makes you feel better, my first thought for your ornament was “Starbucks Red Cups!”. And yes, I say it with extreme excitement. I get what you’re saying. We’re at that stupid adult stage where we have to make our own Christmas and it’s hard to do when it’s just you. My attempt to fix it was putting up decorations super early and sending my presents home the first week of December. I made everyone open them already so I wouldn’t feel so bad about missing Christmas again. I’ve also stopped worrying about whether I spent enough money on them. It was taking all the fun out of the gift giving. I spent $10-15 on each of my nieces and nephews and called it a day. Splurged on mom and dad…you know, since they let me live with them until I was 25 and all:). I decided recently that from now on I will give myself a trip to look forward to after the holidays. Something simple…this year, perhaps a little tour through wine country on my drive up to Seattle. I think being able to do that is the beauty of being grown up.

    • The beauty of being grown up… and single! (I fixed it for you)

      I hope you enjoy Seattle. I absolutely loved it there when I swung by on my trip. It helped that I manage to stumble through on a day when it was sunny and 60 degrees in late October… which is apparently not the norm. At all. But I still enjoyed my time there. Space Needle’s a requirement if you’ve never done it. It’s overpriced and totally overrated. But how can you pass that up?! I also took a Duck Tour there, which is something you should appreciate after having lived in Boston.

  3. Pingback: What I Learned: December 21 | Nanu's Nation

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