Now that I'm older, the holidays just aren't what they used to be. Namely, there is a lot more disappointment all around, a lot less family, and a lot of driving. Growing up, it was easy. I didn't have to think. Get woken up Thanksgiving morning, get dressed while watching the parade. Get in the back of my parent's car, heading to Coventry to see my dad's parents. Stop there, where the parade was also on, say Happy Thanksgiving, watch a bit of the parade, get back in the car. Continue south to South County, to my mom's parents house near the beach. Watch the end of the parade, wait for everyone else to show up. My mom's sister and her husband, my mom's uncle and his wife, his daughter and her boyfriend, my mom's good friend and her husband. By this time, the parade was over and the game was on in the background. My grandpa would start to carve the turkey with the electric knife from the 80's that was so loud you couldn't continue your conversation until he was done. We'd eat dinner crowded around the tiny table then go for a walk to the beach to 'digest.' Once we'd digested, we came back and ate some more.
Christmas was also routine. Mom would cook and wrap last-minute presents all day Christmas eve until it was time to get ready for church. We'd be greeted at the five o'clock mass outside St. Paul by Father Charland. The choir of kids would serenade us with Christmas carols until it was time for mass and at the appropriate times throughout the mass. I loved it, but I started getting antsy around time for communion. This was because I knew that when everyone started moving towards the front of the church to receive their bread and wine, it was time to make our break. We always went to church, but we always has somewhere else to be. I remember leaving church each year at this same time, watching the patrons through the tiny slitted windows parade to the front and listening to the last carol I could hear. We made our way to the car and to Coventry to spend Christmas Eve with at my dad's parents with his side of the family.
Christmas Day was always at my house, so I could wake up in the morning and play with my toys all day long. My whole family would come over and Iw as the star of the show- the only child at that point.
These were the good old days- the carefree holidays. There were traditions in place that hardly ever changed. But now it's apparently time for new traditions, and I'm not sure if I'm ready for that.
Now, it's much more complicated. Not even counting all the family issues that happen on my side, it's more complicated because I now have two families. My boyfriend and I have lived together for three years now. This means that both of us have two families and both families want us all to themselves on holidays. It's hard enough to divide our time, but no matter how we do it someone always feels like the other is getting more of us. The last two years haven't been as bad as this one though. We ended up having separate Thanksgivings. And both families demanded to know why the other one of us wasn't there. Was it them? Was it the food? Was it the other family? Why weren't the two of us together today? Were we fighting? And what about Christmas?
Oh boy, what about Christmas. This is the first year that I have really felt the sting of the holidays. Family matters are out of control. How do we figure out who's going where and when? My money situation is awful. I am actually thinking about spending Christmas money I've already received to buy other people's Christmas presents. Mornings at work are terrible because of the cranky shoppers. Driving is a nightmare. Why can't people be happy during the holidays?
Good thing I'm not the only one thinking about these things. Next year, maybe I'll try following along with the holiday challenge to keep things in order. Too bad that doesn't help with the decision making about where, when, and with whom I'm doing all the holiday things !