Untraditionally yours: What sort of Christmas do you want to have?

i

Happy Saint Nicholas Day! Today is the day that children in Poland and other countries touched by the legend look in the boots they shined the night before and find a little present, perhaps some candy, and, in the case of my brother and me, a letter from Saint Nick setting out exactly what level of good we need to reach over the next 18 day to get a gift on Christmas Eve.

My family dropped the tradition somewhere along the line after we landed in Canada, replacing it with the chocolate Advent calendar (we never quite figured out the stocking thing). I never did it with my children.

I’m actually not sure that I own boot polish.

Traditions. They can come and go, you know.

ii

I struggle with Christmas. I used to love it and then I hated it, more and more, without understanding why. (You’re thinking crass commercialism—nope.) More than a decade would pass before I realized that on Christmas Eve 2003 I started bleeding, didn’t stop for five days, and when I woke up in the hospital on the morning of December 30, I was no longer pregnant and the remnants of my son—his name was going to be Kieran Adam—were god knows where and I felt so empty and I wanted to die but I had a toddler and it was the most wonderful time of the year, Season’s Greetings, party party, so I had to put the grief away.

It’s been 19 years.

It comes back every December.

iii

Ender and I are having a disagreement over the Christmas tree. I don’t have one. I don’t want one.

Ender: That’s what you open the presents under. You need one.

I will, of course, get one. He and I will head out together and get the perfect Christmas tree that will shed needles all over my floor—likely get toppled by the cats—but, whatever. I will get one.

Some fights, the kids always win.

Ender: Can we go to Safeway and buy some snacks? You’ve got nothing in the house except for vegetables.

Sigh.

iv

At work, I’m struggling with EOY burnout. EOY, btw, stands for End of Year, and EOD is End of Day and OOAS is Overuse of Acronyms Syndrome, a poorly understood neurological disease that large organizations and texters are both prone to, lol, wtf, brb, kwim?

Back to burnout: the week in Cuba (I went to Cuba, did you know?) was marvellous (but I’m back now, I wish I wasn’t), but I still wake up exhausted. And it’s cold and dark out. It’s not just me. My whole team is running on empty right now—we just want to nap.

We need to pretend to work—and intermittently actually work—for two, three more weeks. If you think about it, barely 10 days, really. Not a lot of new projects get launched in the week just before Christmas.

We don’t call it Christmas at work though. Just the Holidays.

v

My family celebrates on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is for hangovers and leftovers. The kids spend December 24 with me and in the late afternoon, we head over to my parents to sit down for the Christmas Eve feast extravaganza. We eat when the first star appears in the sky (yeah, so basically at 4:33 p.m.).

It’s a largely secular Christmas, although we do share the Body of Christ before we sit down to the barszcz and fish soup.

On Christmas Day, the kids are with their dad and his family, and I’m crafting new traditions. They might involve binge-watching Bridgerton in bed, atheist/heathen potluck with other folk for whom December 25 is just a day off, or a writing marathon.

Traditions. They all start, in the beginning as a one off event that you choose to repeat. And repeat.

Until you don’t.

Traditions can be started.

Broken.

Resurrected.

Happy EOY to all those who celebrate.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS Christmas tree acquired.

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