What is your best (or worst) holiday memory?The picture? Yeah...that's not it. That one was right in the middle despite my pensive look. Holidays are so busy and chaotic that's it's hard to appreciate anything. Growing up I couldn't wait to see what Santa brought and then what was under the tree. But the denouement, the room full of discarded wrapping paper, with a bit of 'why did I get this?' and 'why did I NOT get that?' running underneath the conversation always left me a little sad. I would consolidate my gifts and put them in a corner or another room and try to move on.
Really I enjoyed a lot about Christmas. Getting surprises but more than that the occasional feeling of having gotten someone else exactly what they wanted. I loved it when we agreed to tone down the chaos by opening presents one at a time in order of age or something. I can't imagine what the procedure was here. My husband is hidden behind me, reading a book. He must have just gotten it as a present, right? My brother-in-law and his parents are pictured, too. (My mother probably took the picture and it's in her house.) My sister and her kids must be there. Maybe a kid is bundled up in the quilt on the left?
My favorite Christmas, though, was the Christmas of 1973. I believe that was the year. I'd taken off in the fall of 1972 to ramble aimlessly around Europe with a Eurail pass and a modicum of gumption. By Christmas 1973 I had a job again and couldn't leave it for an out of town holiday. I believe my parents went to visit my sister and her family. My aunts who lived nearby (I was in Dallas then) went to West Texas to be with other relatives. I'd never spent a Chirstmas alone.
My parents and sister had given me gifts which I saved to open on Christmas Day. I got a newspaper. I made coffee. I carefully opened each present. I was in a (relatively) new apartment and had bought a modular set of cubes with drawers and such and a desktop. They gave me desk accessories and, I'm sure, other things like amusing socks or knick-knacks. I liked the desk accessories a lot. One was a pencil sharpener with a lever to attach it to the desk with a suction cup. I coded on coding pads with a pencil back then. Yep. I sat there the rest of the day and read the paper from Page 1 to the classifieds and drank coffee. I was calm and alone and felt very much at peace. I won't say I felt independent at that moment because either I never did or that happened in 1972 when I was tramping around Europe. (I am going with never, however.)
It was so peaceful and simple. I could hear the chaos over the phone when I called my relatives to thank them for the gifts. I enjoyed that thing that we wish each other and get little of: peace. This Christmas promises much of the same. We have nothing planned between noon on the 23rd and Boxing Day. We have a one foot high tree with tiny rubber critters like flamingos, frogs, pigs and bats decorating it. There is one wrapped present. It is for me and it is from the bookstore. (FFP didn't give me the receipt but I keep up with charges online.) I was going to get him something but he kept buying the things for himself when I went out shopping with him. I still might find something, you never know.
Maybe this year will be my favorite holiday ever. I get emails from my niece about the chaos in Colorado that comes from having little kids. I view it fondly. From afar.
Peace on Earth. Goodwill to Men.