When I was a young mother, my holiday celebrations revolved around my children and their 2 sets of grandparents, both living in different cities. Looking back on those years, what I mostly remember about Christmas is me rushing to gather up the kids, feed the dogs, collect whatever my contribution was to the meals and get out the door to first one set of grandparents and then the other.
In my family we open our gifts on Christmas Eve. It started when I was a teenager. My parents would host a party for family and very close friends, where everyone would bring a dish for the buffet. Then at midnight, after all but my mom, dad and brother had gone home, we each got to open one gift, saving the rest for Christmas morning. Over the years it evolved into opening them all on Christmas Eve and when my 2 kids and their 3 cousins joined the mix, it became a huge orgy of flying gift wrap and picture taking. After all of the gifts were finally opened and the last dessert eaten, I would bundle the kids and all of their booty into the car for the long drive back home where I would spend the rest of the night putting together toys and setting out Santa's gifts. My daughter was a Barbie fiend, while my son loved all things GI Joe, both of which involved intricate and surprisingly fragile sets that had to be assembled ahead of time less the kids open the boxes and try to fit the tiny pieces together by themselves. On Christmas Day the entire thing would start again, but with the other set of grandparents. When we moved to Montana, more times than not Christmas vacation meant a long, cold drive to Southern California to spend the holidays with extended family. Most of the time what I wanted for Christmas was a nap.
Christmas is a good time to take stock of your life and count your many blessings. Among my blessings this year I count the continued good health of me and my children, good friends, a job I can do at home, my perpetually cheerful albeit deaf dog, a cozy home in a great city, the ability to shop online (no lines and free shipping!) and a peaceful, relaxing Christmas season. I love the memories of all of my past holidays, hectic and exhausting though they may have been, and I wouldn't trade one of them. But being the age I am means I get to do the things I want to do when I want to do them. No longer having to make intricately decorated sugar cookies for an entire classroom of kids, or wreaths from green-tinted corn flakes and red hots for Brownie troops means I can indulge in my craft fair habit, watch a marathon of Criminal Minds, read a book, even take that wished-for nap. Instead of a long drive to Southern California, I will be boarding a plane for a short flight to Seattle to spend New Year's Eve and the week after with my good buddy, Cindy. I have never been a New Year's Eve celebration kind of girl, but this year that changes. No doubt we will eat too much, drink too much and laugh until we get dizzy...just because we want to and we can.
Life is good on this side of 60...and it is getting even better.