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So This Is Christmas

So This Is Christmas

December 28, 2007

In the end all my worrying about Christmas for for naught. It all worked out. Even my mother-in-law bringing over her little oven to cook her fish. The food was excellent. The house was clean. The children were happy. I should write myself a note for next Christmas to remind me to relax. Though I know that it wouldn’t matter.

I have mostly taken the past week off from working. Trying to enjoy things like playing wii with my uber competitive children, playing with new toys, getting my hair done, buying some 50% off Christmas clearance items at Target… Mostly just trying to be present and as joyful as possible in a house filled with somewhat needy people who are constantly underfoot. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Christmas this year was somewhat bittersweet. Several family members are planning big moves in the next year. Moves that they are excited about, and that we are pretending to beexcited about for them. But still, with any sort of changes comes, well, change. And I hate change.

Our nephew just graduated from grad school, earning both degrees in under 4 years. We are all so proud of him, the kid who hated school growing up. The kid who hated reading. But it is tinged with the bittersweet knowledge that his mother is no longer here to see it. He was her treasure. Not that she didn’t love both of her children, she did without a doubt. But if parents are honest they would admit that in every family of more than one child there is one who touches your heart, who is just easier to like, who gives your step an extra skip, and that child is not the same for both parents.

He is training to be a fighter pilot and is moving away. He will be in Texas for the next 18 months. And after that who knows. I try not to think about that part much.

And so next year Christmas will be different.

As we were all saying goodbye I said to my brother-in-law that it might be the last time we are all together on Christmas day. (Just call me Susie Sunshine.) They drove away and we all stood on the front porch in the freezing temperatures waving them off. Rob and I remarked how it was the first holiday that there wasn’t any complaining. Rob’s dad, a product of the Great Depression, didn’t say once that we cooked too much food. There were more bottles of flowing wine than there were people to drink them, though we managed. There were smiling children, healthy grandparents, and brand new babies to hold. We all enjoyed ourselves.

It was the perfect holiday. One that can never be duplicated even if no one moved away.

About ten minutes later my brother in law was back at the door, having forgotten something. As I opened the door he said, “See, you can’t get rid of me even if you tried.”

“Dammit.” I answered.

Some things will never change.

Posted by Chris @ 7:34 pm  

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  1. Jane says:

    This is such a great post! I am a bit teary, comparing it to my own family who is slowly but surely growing up and away. And I have three brothers, so the last line is familiar in many ways. The Christmas I knew as a child is changing and morphing with my life. Thanks for sharing your family and your Christmas holiday with me, I truly enjoy reading your posts. Happy New Year to all your dear ones.

  2. Sunny says:

    “But if parents are honest they would admit that in every family of more than one child there is one who touches your heart, who is just easier to like, who gives your step an extra skip, and that child is not the same for both parents.”

    Is yours Miles?

    Chris says: I would never say. I have written about this before.

  3. Fairly Odd Mother says:

    It’s nice that you can appreciate the holiday you had and realize that it was special.

  4. Brooke says:

    Yeah had a good holiday too. Despite all the running around and fretting over every detail. We just ended up staying in our PJs all day, and I only cooked half of the appetizer-only meal I planned.

    Happy New Year


  5. Kathy from NJ says:

    My favorite second-oldest nephew spent 13 months in DelRio, TX (he won the Top Stick award - I call it the Big Stick) then 5 months in San Antonio learning to fly the C-5. He started his first real trip today, he should be in Germany now.

    While in TX I would send a care package every couple of weeks. The post office has a nice sized flat rate priority box, it cost under $9.00 to mail a package of any weight that would arrive in 2 days. I would send crackers & cheese, brownies, biscotti, cookies and individual packs of hot chocolate. Each classroom had it’s own kitchen that was only used by his class, his class voted me “Best Aunt.” I’m sure your nephew will enjoy receiving anything from home. The 18 months will fly by.

    Chris says: Kathy you have to tell me more about sending packages. He is going to San Antonio and leaving in a couple weeks.

  6. Liesl says:

    Happy Christmas and best wishes for a joyous New Year!

  7. Finn says:

    Oh, this hits so close to home. My little brother started college this year and I have struggled so much this fall and winter with things being different. Even though I am 40 years old with a husband and 2 kids of my own, my sweet little brother isn’t supposed to be gone or change - he should always be home with my parents, ready for me to make fun of him and try to embarrass him in front of his friends (so easy to do with my 22 year advantage :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Happy New Year to your growing, changing, wonderful family.

  8. Karen Vogel says:

    Perhaps we should make a pact to remind each other next holiday season to relax and enjoy? Because I know that I am going to forget, too.

  9. All Adither says:

    What’s relax?

  10. Norma says:

    I hate change too! My parents are getting older and every year I’m a little more afraid of what the next year will bring. Blessings to all.

  11. jodi says:

    Thanks for mentioning about your nephew and congrats to him. I too have a child who hates to read and dislikes a lot of his classes. He will be going to college in the fall and I just want him to be happy.

  12. Chris says:

    Aw, you are right, change is so hard. I don’t want to think of the time that all my kids won’t want to come to our home. It won’t be pretty.
    Once the babies come it is so hard to drag them all over. See I understand I just don’t have to like it.
    Happy New Year Chris! May you never lose your wonderful sense of humor. I love your writing. Good Luck to you and your beautiful family in 2008!

  13. Heather's Garden says:

    We had exactly the opposite Christmas…my brother-in-law, his wife, and their son, who are very nice and invite us to their house for Christmas Day most years, are moving away this summer and we couldn’t be happier that we never have to pack up just after opening gifts and run to someone else’s house ever again. We love them and we’ll miss them, but it will be nice to celebrate Christmas at home next year just the four of us. I hear you on the child who just makes you smile a little brighter. One of my husband’s children is just like him and I just can’t help but enjoy his company a little bit more than his brother, but I’d jump in front of a bus for either of them.

  14. bombaygirl says:

    Sweet post. Even though Miles is your baby and you like his little buns in those cute boxer briefs, I still think your little girl is your fave.

  15. MaryMargaret says:

    Chris, I wish I could take your advice to yourself and relax. This year was probably the most relaxed Christmas I have ever had (since I was a very young child, anyway). But, my elder daughter could not be home for Christmas, and that hurt. She is recently graduated from college, newly married, new job–so, no vacation time available for them to come home. My younger daughter and I visited her and her husband for a week before Christmas, and had a great time, but I still teared up at Christmas Eve Mass–missed her so much!

    I would also say that although there are times when I prefer one child to the other, I don’t really prefer one over the other. At times, my happy-go-lucky kid puts that skip in my heart; at other times it is the one who is so intense about life that gives me such joy that my heart almost bursts with love for her. Really, what gives me the most joy is to see them together. They are such good friends and so close to one another-truly sisters of the heart, that my own heart sings with gladness!! This is rather maudlin, but there is nothing like a sibling(s) when they are grown up and still really like one another. (it’s also nice when they still seem to like their Mama–a good sense of humor seems to help with this part). :-)

  16. Lady M says:

    What a lovely Christmas!

    Did you ever post your final family photo? I remember seeing the “mass exodus” series from the photo shoot and my favorite, the one with all the funny face-making.

  17. Headless Mom says:

    Similar story here-oldest will go to college next year and things will just be …..different. Glad your holiday was nice!

  18. meredith says:

    I don’t like change much either, but it keeps happening anyway :)
    My mother in law brought her toaster to our house…we have a perfectly fine toaster, but she brought hers anyway. I guess a mother in law is one thing that doesn’t change.

  19. Pamela says:

    You have embraced changes very well. The year 2008 will continue to change. Your children will grow and change, your style of parenting will change. Look at it this way, when you see changes in the positive attitudes, all changes (no matter how it will be) can be better that what you expect.

    Look towards a better Y2008.

    Blessed New Year


  20. Heather says:

    This was a lovely post, Chris. It really hit home for me. My mom lives in Alaska and I am in Arizona, so holidays together are a rare thing. I had to laugh at “Rob’s dad, a product of the Great Depression, didn’t say once that we cooked too much food.” Doesnt every family have someone like this? This is my father in law to a T! And surprisingly he too never complained once. :)

  21. Jules says:

    I’m glad you had such a beautiful Christmas :)

  22. Melissa says:

    Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing your family, etc with all of us through the last year. Better run, my older son is gently shoving my younger son into a Bike box.

  23. Ruth H says:

    I have three children. It is amazing how they are so different and so special, each in their own way. I am so proud of all of them. As I grow older I realize that at different times in my life, and different times in their lives, that specialness of one is an evolving thing. So all are SO special.

  24. angelawd says:

    Your holiday sounds lovely. Hope your New Year’s holiday is just as special!

  25. Kristen says:

    Beautiful post… made me weep. My boys are only 1 and 4… thoughts of them growing up and leaving home make me ask them to promise to be my little boys for-ev-a. God bless your nephew and may He keep him safe.

  26. elizabeth says:

    Lovely, tear-jerking post - not hard to make me cry lately, and you do it often! ;-)
    I am grateful for your beautiful, poignant and real writing! I love your humor about every day situations!

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  27. Daisy says:

    It’s wonderful that you documented this special holiday on your blog. The peaceful feeling shows in the post.

  28. She Likes Purple says:

    Texas will do its best to take care of him, I promise.

    Sounds like a great day. I’m so glad.