Christmas Recalculated


I pour a second cup of coffee and turn around to lean on the kitchen sink to observe the kitchen and living room. The destruction of Christmas is evident on every surface possible. The smell of the overnight breakfast casserole cooking is making me drool. I am so relieved to have prepped it last night. The dish is tradition now.

It is 10:30 am on Christmas morning. We are all still in our PJs and will remain in them all day. We wouldn’t have it any other way. A few years ago, I was very ill. I had no Christmas spirit in me at all. So, hubby and I took Christmas Day off. Off from the crazy running around to visit people. Off from having people over, which meant off from cooking and cleaning and no fun for us. Even thinking about it exhausted me. We agreed to less gift giving as well. We did our phone calls to love ones. The four of us played games, enjoyed our presents, watched movies  ,and ate. As we devoured the meal we prepped, our oldest exclaimed it was so much fun and can we do Christmas in our PJs again! Our tradition was born.

My hubby and I grew up with Christmases being loud and crowded with family coming and going. Sometimes we would spend most of the day in the car going from house to house.  For my sister and I, we often had to be up and dressed to get out the door early to get to one Grandparents house, then the next.

I was ten years old when I spent my last Christmas with Mom. There was a big gathering at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. She was tired, but got her wig and clothes on just right. My Dad and uncles helped her into the house with her walker. She couldn’t move without it. My Mom’s youngest sister even came for the day from her group home. I remember hearing the cameras click constantly. I didn’t realize how precious that day had become when she died 8 months later. I don’t remember the sadness that lingered behind my aunts’ smiles. I don’t remember my grandma asking for one more kiss as we left that day. I remember the laughs, the songs, and my mom’s bright smile.  Since that Christmas, every other one dimmed in comparison. And the pain of missing my mom comes back every year.

As I grew older, I had a career in retail. For my one day off from the chaos of Christmas, it was never a day off. My hubby and I would spend Christmas Day going from one family’s house to the next After becoming parents and parenting a child with extra needs, it was bone-exhausting to travel. So, we would host at our house for anyone needing a place to go to for Christmas. The prep and cooking would take a full week beforehand. It was a lot of work.

Then, I said no to it all. And I have never looked back.

We visit with others on days around Christmas. We might entertain a few people, but not for a meal. We downsized the gifts we give to each other. We have too much stuff as it is. We find a few places to donate instead.  I loved the shift of doing what we felt obligated to do and doing what we wanted to do. It became more about spending time together. We eventually would take quick showers after the kitchen was cleaned up and climb into fresh pajamas for the remainder of the day.

The year is busy enough as it is. Putting the world on pause and enjoying each other at home is the perfect gift. You never know when it will be the last Christmas.