I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. This is my favorite time of year - not because of gifts received (and given), or because Pumpkin Spice shit is replaced with Christmas Cookie stuff, and not just because of my birthday. It's my favorite time of year because of all the time spent taking stock of what we have to be thankful for and the opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends.
Today, Christmas Day, is a day for love and thankfulness. I tweeted about my favorite Christmas a while back. Of course, one of my favorite holiday traditions as a kid was always wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve. I have 5 older siblings, but really only grew up with my brother because we are the closest in age. My parents have always had a tumultuous relationship, but my paternal aunt and grandmother worked with my mom to make sure we had a very special holiday. They would take my brother and I in for a few weeks during Christmas break so that my mom could work double shifts, sometimes triple shifts, to ensure we could afford great presents.
My brother and I spent those weeks home from school using the big JC Penney catalogs to make our Christmas list. We would log onto my aunt's Compaq desktop computer and type up our list in Microsoft Word, taking great care to recall all the things that had been given the “No, wait until Christmas” excuse since Dec. 26 of the previous year (we had remarkable recall skills). We would go so far as to specify the page number of the desired item. At the end of our list was the grand total, taxes included, which would almost always add up to over $2-3k dollars. Looking back, it was a great exercise in learning how to properly do research and basic arithmetic as a kid.
On Christmas Eve, my grandmother would turn on a holiday playlist and cordon off the dining room for gift wrapping. My older siblings would always come down with their families to enjoy the Christmas holiday at her house, situated in the deep south on 200 acres of farmland. Everyone had their own roll of wrapping paper and would wrap their gifts to others one by one in the selected gift wrap. My brother always picked red; I always got green paper. His gift wrapping skills left much to be desired, but I was very careful to wrap mine perfectly. Regardless of aesthetics, everyone's gifts got placed under a tree that we had decorated together the day after Thanksgiving. Then, it was bedtime until we woke up at 5am for Christmas Day church service... and rushed back home to open presents and have a big breakfast. A full afternoon of playtime was followed by a huge spread of my favorite comfort foods for Christmas dinner! My uncle would always drink a little bit too much, proclaiming Christmas as the holiday where you were supposed to "eat, drink, and be merry!"
I've been asked many times why I now spend Christmas alone - it is because several relationships in my family have been strained or severed entirely, making it difficult to get everyone together for even a short time. We are also all apart. My dad's family has long been plagued with generational poverty, so it became almost impossible for some of my siblings to travel to one place, especially after the recession. And when I started at boarding school, I would often wait until after Christmas to go home because the expense of traveling at the peak of the holiday season was prohibitive. It is not the best of situations, but I still feel so much love from my family - even miles away and nearly a decade since the last time we did a "big" Christmas together. I have had so much love poured into me by friends and family that, in spite of sometimes being emotional, I am still thankful.
I always find a way to enjoy my holiday and I send gifts to my grandmother, aunt, both of my parents, plus all of my siblings, nieces, and nephews. I can usually be sneaky and send them after Christmas (since I am shipping them LOL). I spent this morning doing community service at D.C. Central Kitchen, one of my favorite local charities. I threw on my Classic Christmas Tunes playlist and made pancakes, bacon, and eggs for breakfast; after eating, I ran a nice bath using a beautiful bath bomb from Lush and lit a candle from Jo Malone. For the rest of the day, I will be in my pajamas preparing an epic Christmas dinner for myself and watching classic Christmas movies like Home Alone. I don't know that I'll ever figure out what kind of job Kevin's dad has, considering he is able to afford a mansion in one of the richest American suburbs in Illinois while also taking his family on luxurious trips abroad for the holiday. But I love watching the precocious young fellow outsmart the home burglars.
I want to say thank you so much for your continued support and love over this year. It means a lot that you take the time to shower me with support in a myriad of ways - from spending time with me or following me on Twitter and Instagram to reading my blog or sending gifts. The frequency or amount of time together is not what matters... it's that you choose me to be dote upon.
Have a happy holiday!