In the spirit of trying to spend my time focusing on the people and things that really matter to me, I’ve decided to go all in this holiday season. Deb wrote very well about a Rockwell Christmas, and though our family has mostly only been the 3 or 5 of us on Christmas morning, I related to a lot of what she wrote.
Sometime around the late 90s, Christmas Day for our family meant sleeping in (for my sister and I), staying in our pajamas all day, watching movies, and eating. It’s not that we weren’t social leading up to Christmas Day, but other than Christmas Eve church service, December 24th and 25th were days for just our family. Those two days represented a chance to sleep in and not worry about anything except food and rest. (I recognize it’s a luxury not everyone can afford – the season can be so difficult for so many for all kinds of reasons.)
My father would often go back to Trinidad for Christmas, so many of my holiday memories revolve around all the love my mom put into our Christmas Day. While she was likely so frustrated that my sister and I slept in, our neighbour’s daughter (my mom’s most important “other daughter”) would always come by early to visit and spend some time in the morning with her. Since her second stroke, my mom has no real concept of time and dates. She’s tipped off by the newspaper ads or by the commercials on TV that the holiday season is upon us. Even though she can have very little appetite, she likes to make sure there’s a table full of food because it’s what she associates with the holidays. (This also means I spend many days after Christmas eating the leftovers. All. By. Myself.) I have tried my best to have us all together for Christmas Day, but that often proves difficult since my sister lives in the US. We usually see each other at some point over the season, but our family isn’t always together on December 25th.
Since we’re moving at a slower pace during this pandemic normal, the holidays are going to be a big deal for me. We’ll have my sister and her husband, along with my fur-niece and nephew at our house. It’s been two years since we’ve all been under one roof, so I’m also bracing for a bit of un-smooth sailing. Not because we don’t have some amount of love for each other, but because it’s hard to get five grown-ups under one roof into the same groove easily. Add the loving, but unaware of their large size Rottweilers, and it’s going to feel squishy even though our house is large enough to host us all comfortably. I’m trying very hard not to be too anxious or stressed before that happens. I’m not trying to will it into existence, but I know my people. With this, they will not let me down.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for me is that my Godson will be visiting from England. He’s only 3 years old, and the last time I saw him, he was still only 1. Even though we speak quite often, (as much as a 3 year old has the patience to engage in Facetime), I haven’t seen him in 2 years. That means there’s been a lot of change during our separation, so I can’t wait to spend time with him. It’s also important for my mom to see him. We’re all too aware that time is short and she is not able to travel that distance to see him at his home.
As a result, I’m doing my best to go all in this holiday season. Since we’re all grownups, my family doesn’t really do presents anymore, except for pajamas. But this year, I’ve been well planned and prepared. I’ve been trying my best to support local or small businesses, and I have bought early. (I stuck mostly to deliveries. I’ve yet to brave a mall or any shopping centre, and I’m hoping to keep it that way for a little while longer.) The grownups will still really only be dealing in pajamas, but hopefully our Squish is ready for our love and presents on top of whatever Santa manages to leave under the tree. I’m looking forward to the extra help in the kitchen, since my sister (the far superior cook) will actually be here. We’ll still take some shortcuts (because I still don’t understand how my mom did all that work every year), but I’ll have actual help with the bread, the turkey and might even be able to manage some Christmas baking. (The flour and icing sugar are ready.)
This is not the time for me to count calories or hours of sleep. It’s going to take an energy I haven’t had for a long time to get through this holiday season. I’m not even sure if I’ve got it fully in me, but I’m determined to Fa-la-la with the best of them. I’m set up to record these memories so that I can look back fondly on this time when we aren’t able to create them anymore. These moments only happen once, and I need to make sure I protect them.
I’d like to say I fall into the “sandwich generation” – and while I have no children of my own to care for – I find myself falling somewhere in between caring for my mother and caring for my sanity. When I am not working, I have the honour of helping look after my amazing mother, who has suffered 2 strokes in the past 11 years. Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart, and if I am being honest, it can be a crappy club to be a member of. I have fallen down more times than I care to count through this journey, but while channeling my incredible stubbornness, strength (both of which I come by honestly,) and several F-words (Faith, Family, Friends and Food), I keep getting back up. IG: @Coolman_Eh