Dec 15, 2009
Sometimes the great thing about being an adult is that you don't have to follow the rules. For example, I just opened the chocolates my mom sent in a package of small gifts for my Christmas stocking. Don't judge me: They're Purdy's. And I love Purdy's. I won't open the soap, tea, lip balm, knit gloves or hot chocolate (my mom puts the exact same stuff in my stocking every year. Plus when you ship internationally you have to write on the customs slip what the contents are. No surprises there). I won't let Lucy open anything early, and I will continue to judge my husband's folks for opening the gifts we sent last year on the day they received them -- like, 5 days before Christmas. Don't they know that makes Baby Jesus cry, I asked my formerly Pentecostal partner.
The other great thing about being an adult is that you get to make your own traditions on Christmas. You get to choose how and when you open the gifts (I think slowly with a mimosa). You plan the menu and set the playlist. And you don't have to eat brussells sprouts (unless you make them with bacon and carmelized onions, like I did at Thanksgiving -- thank you, Mark Bittman).
Ever since my parents split three days before Christmas when I was 12, I've had negative associations with the holidays. Following that awful year (I didn't get my present — a bike — for a couple months following the split), Christmas was always super stressful; dividing time between mom and dad's houses, hoping the present from one didn't make the other jealous and angry (divorced parents really are as childish as Noah Baumbach depicted in the Squid and the Whale). As an adult living away from home, I've spent numerous Christmases with friends' families, and I would much rather take part in a new tradition (oxymoron?) than try to recreate the impossible: a time when my family was happy and Christmas was full of promise.
Now, however, with my own child and living far from my family, I make the rules. The first new family tradition we adopted this year was to make a Christmas music video -- my husband on guitar and vocals, little Lucy on harmonica, and me on the drums. For this, our second Recession Christmas , we sent DVDs of the video to our families in lieu of gifts. The praise has yet to roll in, but I'm sure it will be a hit. Also, inspired by my friend Dreae's "Made, Found or Handed-down" gift-giving rule, I bought Ryan's gift on eBay (we set a very low spending limit that pretty much demanded buying second-hand).
I'm still trying to figure out what to have for dinner. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is too close to Christmas for cooking turkeys on both occasions. I hate ham, so that's out. What would be wintry and flavourful? Or totally unorthodox but delicious?