Around the holiday season, when it feels like there’s an elf on every corner waiting to sprinkle all the children with magic dust and make their eyes bulge out of their heads with amazement, it is understandable that adults can grow nostalgic for the past. It’s easy, with all the complexities of modern life, to yearn for the simplicity of lost youth and to want to see the holidays through the filter of childhood wonderment again.
How perfectly…awful. I would never want to be a child again, not for one minute ever, but most especially not during the holidays. Are you kidding me?! I love being an adult, a mother, the female head of our household. I find great fulfillment in being Holiday Team Captain, Bringer of Joy and Ambassadress of All Things Mysterious and Enchanting about the Holiday Season. Let me spell it out for you: I don’t simply enjoy the holiday season, I devour the holiday season. In fact, I’m quite inclined to tear into it, rip it open, suck out the juice and throw the pulp on the floor after I’m done. But perhaps most importantly, I like to be in control of the holiday season.
Which is finally, thankfully, upon us. Ugh, I thought I was never going to survive all those relentlessly cheerful spring and summer days prior to the advent of My Time to Shine, complete with cold weather, cider fests and twinkly lights. I have spent 10 months imagining what this year’s Christmas wrapping-paper colour scheme was going to be, and now, at long last, I am making it happen (copper and cobalt blue, in case you’re wondering).
If I were asked to offer an amateur psychoanalysis of myself, I might suggest that it all goes back to being a child of divorce and the feeling around Christmastime that I somehow needed to be in three different places at once. There were just so many fractured units making up our family, and with everyone requiring their fair share of the only-child pie (me being said only child), I often felt torn asunder. And while I most certainly enjoyed the attention, the numerous gift openings and the succession of delectable hot turkey sandwiches, it was also largely about multiple location changes, constricting outfits and a whole lot of vacuuming in case company was coming over. How I longed to have a “wild” Christmas, one that didn’t involve carefully folding up the wrapping paper for next year’s use and eschewed people-pleasing in favour of movie marathons, bedhead and actually playing with my toys instead of having to pack up and get in the car for an hour and a half. Or two. Or five.
Which is why, now that I am a woman, a parent of three children five and under, and a Decider in my own right, I have decided that the Bee-Jones Holiday Season is about pleasing only us. That’s right, it’s about us, and our close extended family only (excluding charitable acts, an essential element of the Giving Back and Personal Growth portion of the season). This applies to social obligations that we get invited to and maybe halfway should even go to, but don’t really want to at all. If an event or a party or something else outside of our unit strikes our fancy and it is within the realm of possibility for us, we may add it to the roster, but probably not. We are decisive about these things, and judicious with our RSVPs. There will be no location moves. There will be precisely zero vacuuming. We are going to burn the wrapping paper in a toasty fire (sorry, Planet Earth), and we will be wearing pyjamas all day long. In fact, I have only one firm rule, and that is to groom yourself just a little bit, so that we can look good in our post-Christmas-precious-memories photo essay (but this may only mean changing from dirty pyjamas into clean pyjamas anyway).
This keeps things simple, and simplicity is key. Any traditions I don’t like or understand are out. This means that we only cook and eat the things that we want to; no turnips, maybe even no turkey. Oh, I said it. No turkey.
I only do things that feel great to me. For instance, I happen to love baking cookies and giving them away as gifts. At the present time, I have had to put that tradition on hold, as I am the only person in my immediate family who actually likes shortbread, and that does not feel great to me. (Side note: How could I have given birth to people who don’t like shortbread? What is wrong with you? Are you allergic to deliciousness?)
We will start the day with a chocolatey treat, which will be sticking out of the top of our stockings for easy access. The milk in our coffee will be replaced with Baileys, just a smidgen, because no one will be driving anyway. We will open our super-fun presents very slowly and tantalizingly. No one is allowed to buy anyone anything practical; there will be no exchange of cleaning gadgets, children’s socks or cufflinks, unless, for reasons I cannot fathom, these items are greatly desired. Movies will be watched and none of them will be old-timey. For instance, I like Elf, Christmas Vacation and The Empire Strikes Back, in no particular order. A gingerbread house that we have decorated will be slowly undecorated, candy by candy, as the day progresses. Children and adults alike will dissolve into puddles of tears and hysterical laughter many times over the course of the day. Everyone will eat too much gluten.
Basically, if you do not get up from the couch after a long day of smiling and laughing, with a half-eaten candy cane stuck to the seat of your pants, then I have not done my job. I have failed you.
This year we may add to our cavalcade of holiday whimsy such things as Breakfast S’Mores, Christmas Barbecued Ribs, made by my husband (out by the grill and soldiering through the cold weather in his dress-up pyjamas), and round after round of competitive Boggle. Not sure yet.
But one thing I can tell you for sure is that it will be Magical. Oh. It. Will.
Because I say so.