It’s that time of year, friends. When Starbucks red cups abound, and people shriek in terror that we’re declaring a war on Christmas because they can’t find anything else better to do.
If you’re me, it’s also that time of year when impatient relatives start asking where you are spending the holidays, with the implicit expectation that you’ll be spending it with them. (Obviously.)
This year we have the added pressure of “Where are you spending Chick’s first Christmas?!”
Answer? Not with any of you motherf*ckers.
Strangely, my family has been pretty okay with this answer. Maybe it is because I’ve been living so far away from them for so long that they’ve gotten used to not seeing me around the Christmas table. Maybe it is because they pragmatically understand that I burned through every last second of vacation time while I was trying to make up for the 4 week gap between when my leave ended and daycare started. (One of the many complications of having your baby show up waaaaay ahead of schedule.)
No, no…this particular episode of crazy is brought to us by the following sponsors: Mr. O’s dad and Mr. O’s mom. (Seperately. Because let us remember that they dislike each other so much I’m sure they would be appalled I just lumped them into one sentence with nary a comma between them.)
Christmas was always difficult for Mr. O as a kid. In fact, he hated Christmas when I first met him. I couldn’t understand why. Christmas is filled with presents, singing, long lazy days in your pj’s by the fire! Not his. His were filled with being shuttled from one house to the next, waking up before dawn to spend hours in the car, typically culminating with a fight between his two parents.
After a few years of witnessing this first hand, I got it. Christmas as he knew it did suck. Does suck. Because it is December 25th or nothing. If we don’t spend December 25th with his mother or father, they both believe that it’s like we didn’t see them at all. If we manage to squeeze them both in? It’s a question of who we saw first. Or for the longest time. There is always a yardstick that we are not measuring up to.
As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. O is determined that this won’t happen to Chick. There will not be two Christmases or two Thanksgivings. We’ll have ONE, and if people want to come and act civil, that’s wonderful. But as I saw first hand in the Baby Shower Skirmish, civil is too much to ask for.
So how do two grown ups deal with a situation like this? Run away! RUN AWAY!
If all goes well, we’ll be spending Christmas in a cabin on a farm. Just the three of us. I’m planning on naps, hot cocoa, and watching Chick play with wrapping paper.
The thing is I know that this decision will not go over well. And you know what? I kinda don’t care. No, wait… I ACTUALLY DON’T CARE.
Mr. O is all about fleeing for the holidays. In fact, he wants this to be our tradition– we always go some place else. Maybe it is a way for him to separate our family from the clear dysfunction of his. We’ll be our own unit, with our own traditions. In theory, I’m okay with this. I really don’t like Christmas with his family because there is so much tension and so little joy. Where this solution starts to break down is when I think back on my family Christmases. I remember the excitement of being the first person up in the morning so I could open the advent calendar my mom made by hand. I have such great memories of listening to Bing on the turntable and singing “Mele Kalikimaka” loudly (and poorly.) And later, I love the tradition my parents introduced of letting the grandchildren pick one ornament off their tree for the kids to take home for keeps.
But, as Mr. O points out, it’s hard to sell his family on not being home for the holidays when that really means pointedly not being with his parents. It almost would make the matter worse.
This year, we’re sticking to our guns and running for the hills. Next year? Not quite sure how that’s going to shake out. Maybe by that time, everyone will have stopped talking to us. One can only hope!