It was a very different Christmas this year. With the house on the market and the Navy making Mr. MG’s schedule come-and-go, a concerted effort to get some school done, and a my having a hard time getting a grip, a lot of things got left out - We didn’t decorate the outside of the house and the inside was scaled back a bit; I didn’t make any cookies or fruitcake; I didn’t even send out cards.
But the things we did get to were the traditions we love the most. My mother-in-law, who usually has the energy to keep us all on schedule and up on our Christmas celebrating, still had all the energy but was laid up with a badly injured knee. She had to let go of a lot of yearly activities, but we still got to go over and have the Hooligans decorated gingerbread houses with her. Instead of her buzzing around the kitchen for all the candy and frosting, Mr. MG and I did that and she got to sit and enjoy the kids…I think that may be a new tradition, because it was right where she belonged.
This year has been the year of the Nutcracker. We have listened to the score and watched it on Netflix so many times, even Moo can tell you, note by note, what is going on in the story when she hears it come on. I got to take the Bigs to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker in Seattle. When we went last year I thought we would be moved by now and so it was a little sad to think it would be the last time for a long while. This year felt like a bonus viewing and I just enjoyed the day and let the future take care of itself. As we walked around Seattle Center (after a delicious lunch of sushi) the Bear turned to me and said, “I’m sad to let the minutes go by, because I never want to be out of this day.” We talked about forming memories, and that we can’t be sad as we form them, or we’ll spoil it and end up being sad all the time. And I didn’t even cry when I said it. We watched teenagers dare each other to touch the Center fountain without getting blasted with water, looked in gallery windows, soaked up Christmas-in-the-city vibes, and then got warmed up in McCaw Hall.
As we waited to take our seats, the Seafair Pirates invaded the lobby. They answered the carolers with their own bawdy Christmas carols, yo-ho-ho’ed, and worked the crowd for toys to give to Toys For Tots. The Bear and the Princess both got to chat with them and were handed pirate loot. The entire night was just the way you’d plan if you could think of everything going exactly right. We didn’t even listen to Christmas music on the long ride home, since we were too busy talking with each other. (And Moo was thrilled the next morning to find a stuffed Mouse King – her favorite character – tucked in bed with her. Thrilled…and a wee bit scared of his wickedness.)
All three played in the Christmas recital this year, and the Bigs each performed in a cross-town piano recital, as well. I love that this means lots of beautiful music in my home for the weeks of preparation. I don’t like the preparing for the duets nearly as well…and by preparing, I mean the neverending effort to keep them from killing each other. They have no idea how charming it is to hear them do well together – they are only aware of how WRONG the other is playing. And do it this way. No, I mean this way. And where did Mama go with that big bottle she was carrying?
On Christmas Eve, at the church’s cantata, we got to see my Uncle Floyd for the first time in three years. He came out to visit for the holiday, and it was really a gift. The Bear lit up especially and immediately sat by him. The only downside of his visit is that it makes us all greedy for more and wish that he lived out here.
Christmas Day, we opened stockings before going to church. And I have to say, spending time celebrating Jesus’ coming by getting together and singing and praising in a group was glorious. It makes me wish we did that every year, even when Christmas doesn’t fall on a Sunday. It was thrilling.
Back to the house for present opening, then to my in-laws’ to meet up with my folks and uncle to eat, open more gifts, eat, watch movies, eat, chat, and eat. It was a perfect Christmas, even without lighting up the house or baking cookies. (I’m thinking of a post-Christmas card, though. I can’t help it.) It was the kind of day that makes me weepy that it’s done. Don’t tell the Bear I said that.
A perfect Christmas season of just the essentials.