When I was little I loved Christmas. I think I often made myself sick with the excitement of it. One of my favourite parts was the stocking. Being the youngest, search I often woke up the earliest and have to wait for the others (especially when they were teenagers) – but I was allowed to go through my stocking. I would even get excited about the mandarin orange in the toe despite the fact that I could go to the kitchen and get one if I wanted. The thing about a stocking is that you never knew what you were going to get – it was never anything you asked for; a little sack full of surprises. Even if those surprises consisted of socks, anaemia an Archie comic book and lifesavers – it didn’t matter! And they all appeared there as if by magic.
I used to stress myself out lying in bed wondering if when I went to the bathroom I would see Santa – which would cause him to take back all the presents. I don’t know why I thought he would do that but I remember eventually asking my parents to move the tree downstairs so I could stop fretting about those inevitable Christmas Eve bathroom breaks. (What can I say; I’ve always had a small bladder). My Mum always says I hung on to a belief in Santa longer than most kids. I remember how devastated I was when I found out he wasn’t real – or at least when I knew I could no longer pretend that he was. Maybe that is why Christmas has never really been the same. Over the years each beloved Christmas tradition has fallen away until there is little left. The easiest and least important thing to go was the presents obviously. In my family new things came into the house twice a year – Christmas and your birthday. Anything else – like the coveted Cabbage Patch doll – had to be worked for. (Unless of course you grew fast and needed clothes or shoes or something, resuscitator I’m talking toys here.) But as an adult you can pretty much buy anything you want whether you need it or not – and most adults do. The stress of finding people the perfect present for a specific day of the year is too much for us and so we did away with exchanging Christmas presents early on in our relationship. Besides, we developed other Christmas traditions that are way more meaningful.
That being said, this year we aren’t doing much. For financial and space reasons we have decided to not get a Christmas tree and, well, there is no point in stringing cranberries if there is nothing to hang them on. The Christmas lights were nixed because they aren’t LEDs and because we can’t afford to pay for the extra electricity cost. I usually try to make presents for as many people in my family as possible but that isn’t happening this year either – if you aren’t a nephew you aren’t getting anything. We’ll still bake of course and share it with everyone we can who is nearby. I’ll still watch It’s a Wonderful Life by myself, although since the Mister will be working everyday except Christmas I won’t have him coming into the room and rolling his eyes at me as I sit there weepy on the couch (another tradition).
Next year though… next year, when the Wrackspurt has a name, I am making us all stockings. I won’t fill them up – no eight-month-old baby needs a stocking full of anything, and the Mister’s and mine will probably always stay empty. But at least I will have them. Maybe I’ll fill mine up with mandarins – that usually all I want around Christmas anyway.
*I’m the little boy in the photos, the stylish one with the scarf and toque that I would die for now is my sister, the other is my brother who I think looks like a Vulcan in that middle photo.