this month's topic for Interpretations: Changes
The More Things Change
itís been an interesting holiday season. the holidays for me are about a lot of familiarity - stockings in the morning with the family, dinner the middle of the day, maybe seeing friends the night before, singing Christmas carols at church service.
nearly none of that happened this year, and it was unsettling. and yet... and yet is it fair to keep the people we love in a little box, and expect them to stay the same? there are things that i want to change about myself, and things that are changing, will change because hey, thatís life. our jobs, our life situations, our taste in music, clothes, friends, politics, all change.
we used to put up our tree sometime after Thanksgiving, and it was a family event to decorate it. weíd read ĎTíwas the Night Before Christmasí on Christmas Eve, after getting back from church, and then put out milk and cookies for Santa. going to sleep was hard as a kid; getting up in the morning was harder when we got to high school and college. stockings happened before breakfast, and then dad would make scrambled eggs. the rest of the family presents would happen after breakfast. then weíd get cleaned up, and either start making dinner or pack up to go to my grandparentsí (my motherís parents). and almost always, at the end of the day, iíd end up curled up in front of the tree, staring at the lights.
itís all been changing, bit by bit, as we find ourselves in new places each year. when i went off to college, schedules were adjusted a little. then my brother and sister each went off to college. i moved to Boston. my grandfather died. my brother graduated and started work. i got married, then divorced. my grandmother had a stroke and moved into an assisted living place. my sister started graduate school. my parents sold the house and moved. both my siblings got married this year. my mom is struggling with finding herself, and dad is more active than i ever remember him being in organizing family events.
and i agonized over getting a tree this year. such a small thing, really. but getting the tree, decorating it, piling up presents underneath it, and just watching the lights mean a lot to me. my parents havenít had a tree for several years, and neither did i, because it just didnít seem worth it. why go to all that work just for me? since iím the single one, in the small apartment, not really near the rest of the family, i go to them. Mohammed going to the mountain, as it were.
but thereís been a lot of change in my life this year, from losing a partner to being assaulted to changes in my job, from rediscovering a partner to starting a journal to taking on a marketing role, from working on friendships to learning to like myself to taking change in stride. and maybe thatís why something as small as getting a tree and making my place feel like Christmas was important. i got two little stocking and hung them up on the window frame, behind the tree. my sweetie and i did stockings stuffers and giftees to each other two days before Christmas. and it felt... well, some of it was scary, and some of it was good. it felt a bit tenuous, as i wondered if this was some sort of start for our own tradition, not really wanting to put too much hope in it yet, tho. and pulling that first present out from under the tree i tried not to think about it too much, but at some level, all the other Christmases were there, and the memories, and the recognition of whatís been lost.
on the other hand, it was good. iím looking over at the tree as i write, and i see bits and pieces of my history in the ornaments. thereís a golden bugle that my best friend in high school gave me, a British phone booth i bought just this past summer, some glass clippy birds (well, i call them that, but theyíre glass birds that you clip onto the branch) that remind me of an ornament my mom has from my great-grandmother, red velvet bows like the ones my mom put on the Norfolk pine she had a few years ago, a ceramic Noel i picked up at a local artistsí cooperative years ago, a wooden Scandinavian baby that looks like a gingerbread cookie - a gift from some friends iíve since lost touch with, candy canes (we used to try to snag them first as kids), and on the top of the tree is the newest ornament. itís a hand blown glass one, the word Joy spelled out in twists of crystal, colored like candy canes. i couldnít really afford to get it, and my poor little Charlie Brown tree didnít really have room for one more thing. but i got it, and hung it right on top so that iíd see it every time i looked at the tree. a reminder to myself, i guess, that no matter how much things change, remember that the joy and love that makes it all worthwhile is still there.