Traditions

We often travel for the holidays, going back to the old homestead, so the years when we’re at home, just us as a family have been few so far. This year, the intent was to be low-key and reinforce the new Christmas tradition that we started two years ago, by splitting up our celebrating across two days: family gifts and dinner on Christmas Eve, stockings and breakfast on Christmas Day. We’re building a compromise between my family tradition and Sabs’ this way, so that it feels like Christmas for both of us, and our kids get the benefit of both traditions.

Last night there was duck with butternut squash, mashed potatoes, carrots, spinach and a divine chocolate sauce. It’s good to be married to a chef. We made merry around the tree after dinner, opening presents, eating pie and drinking hot cocoa. When the action had died down a bit, we popped in the newly unwrapped copy of Tom Lehrer’s “That Was the Year That Was” and lay back with our heads resting on a stuffed blue elephant, while Vic played with his new Scooby Doo Mystery Machine and action figures. With our heads propped together at the forehead, we sang along with the lyrics, laughing and commenting on how apt some of the tunes still are to the political situation today.

Lehrer was part of the soundtrack for our first face to face meeting, a long time ago, when we were still just friends. Listening to “Vatican Rag” with my back pressed into the carpet, slowly sinking into post-holiday meal stupor with my fingers laced into his held equal parts happy nostalgia and a hint of bittersweet, the loss of more innocent times, perhaps.

Eventually, we shook the sleepies off and corraled the kids up to bed, Vic clutching his Mystery Machine, even while we read stories from his new Scooby book. We’d planned to clean up after both of the boys were asleep, and play Santa’s elves, but the heaviness of the meal and the wine that went with it conspired to tuck us both into bed early.

Sadly, about an hour after we went to bed, the Family Curse hit me hard, and I spent the rest of the night in the bathroom. There are some traditions for Christmas that I’d gladly leave behind, even if it does mean that I’ve spent the day in my PJs lying on the couch instead of cleaning a very, very deep sinkful of dishes. It’s just that I’d rather have been having pancakes and cocoa while Vic opened the rest of his presents, instead of Saltines and Gatorade.