I’ve been working on writing about Christmas this year. It’s a slightly passive aggressive feel good piece , but the more I read it, the more bored I get. I think that’s why I haven’t written much lately. I’m boring. I have forgotten how to tell a story. I have forgotten how to be funny. Or REAL. Writer’s block? A case of the Fuck-it’s? A preoccupation with who I am supposed to be vs. Who I am? I don’t want to write a this-was-what-I-did-today blog. I need to get back to being me. A little snarky. A little irreverent. A lot more honest.
My Christmas Vacation
My kids have had a 3 week Christmas break. Three.Weeks. Happy Birthday Jesus.
I don’t ever claim to be The World’s Best Mom. I don’t even strive for it. I have had some pretty great mom moments; little, perfect slices of time where I think to myself “yep, I did this”. “I am doing this right”. “I deserve a medal”. Those mom wins are fleeting, but they are mine. The balance is I have plenty – PLENTY- of mom fails. The universe keeps me humble.
My babies aren’t babies anymore, and they don’t need my constant supervision. so they don’t get it. And with that comes less attention, I suppose. This three weeks has been a ton of being plugged in. One kid is attached to her tablet at all times. All of the times. Making breakfast, plugged in. Making poop, plugged in. She just noticed a large lantern sitting in the living room. It’s been here a week. She walks past it 7148961564 times a day. The other kid is constantly in her room. You know, teenagers. She is also always plugged in, preferring to watch her own stuff and forgoing family movies. I am well aware that I can tell them to not be plugged in – and I should- but this school break I didn’t. For one reason or another, i just didn’t. And getting them to do other stuff was a pain in the ass, because of it.
They have whozits and whatsits galore. So come Christmas time, do they really need more? Some years I look at my overloaded tree skirt and wonder if we’re all overcompensating a little bit. And if anyone would notice if I returned a few of those gifts and treated myself to a Starbucks and a massage.
It’s not just the gifts. The last few years have been a whirlwind of accommodating others; constant cooking and cleaning and cramming too many people into my house, my car,my schedule. I love having family around. I don’t love the expectation to be a tour guide and a chef and a referee. Yes, it comes with the territory of blended extended families, and for nearly 20 years we have all been accommodating. But it seems the last few years TGILW and I have found ourselves more overwhelmed, more exhausted and more just plain…I can’t even. We both have parents who have liberated themselves from the shackles of marriage, or re-shackled. That’s quite a bit of holiday obligation. To keep things fair, and less whiney, we decided years ago that we wouldn’t travel on the holidays; our parents can come to us, and sometimes they have to share. And for years it has worked, more or less. But it has definitely gotten more difficult to arrange. I have been trying, and failing, to celebrate Christmas differently. I do love the whole Christmas season, but it has taken it’s toll. I have found myself ready to do away with the shenanigans and festivities, but somehow I just keep getting sucked back in. Because, you know, Christmas.
So this year, the perfect storm formed to un-do our Christmas anxiety: We moved to a dangerous third world country and no one wanted to visit us. Bam. Check that off the list. In all fairness, we didn’t want to travel back to the states, either. The expense was nuts and remember the above family tree description. Yikes. Then, or oldest, out-on-her-own kid decided to do some traveling of her own this year, and it wasn’t to come see us. Fine, you ungrateful little shit, be that way. Just kidding. While we are all super sad, she had an amazing opportunity and she needed to take it. Even it if broke her mother’s heart. Kidding again, mostly.
Have I mentioned we live in Central America? I think I’ve brought it up once or twice… anyways, winter here means hot, dry and sunny. There is no brisk fall weather to usher in the season, there is no chill in the air, no jack frost nipping anywhere. Not a pine tree to be found. I actually sweat while I drink my Starbucks to go while holiday shopping. Hot coffee when it’s 92 degrees out? Mmmmm… sounds good, I’ll have that. It’s makes it difficult to get festive.
So, no visitors, no “holiday weather” and no gumption to engage in the shenanigans of the season brought us to abandon our seasonal responsibilities and head to the beach for a week. Yes, on Christmas. Yes, I mean we were there on Christmas Day. A few people couldn’t wrap their heads around that. As Dr. Seuss taught us, you can’t stop Christmas from coming.
We did have Christmas; a primitive, yet perfect beach house rental. Sure, there was no toilet paper or hot water and the “full kitchen” consisted of mismatched thrift dishes from the 1980’s, a stove/oven the size of a mini fridge and silverware that made me appreciate that painful tetanus shot I got before the big move. BUT WE WERE AT THE BEACH. We had a private pool, and an entire resort with beachfront practically to ourselves, perfect weather. It was amazing for a million reasons, but mainly because we had zero stress, no wifi, and took the time to enjoy the moments.
I was a bit of a Grinch… no Christmas baking, sparse decorating, no Christmas day feast. We didn’t even get through all of our Christmas movies. It’s Jan 12th and I still haven’t watched Love Actually. Hmmmm… note to self: watch Love Actually today. BUT we had fun. REAL family fun. No wifi meant, very few times our faces were in phones or tablets. We played board games, we talked, we listened to music by the pool. We swam in the ocean, we sort of read books. We showered outside because the water was warmer. We shopped at the local storefronts for necessities (toilet paper!!) We even watched a few non traditional movies on the computer. We hula-hooped and juggled. We drank fancy “frozens” and pina coladas and coconut water out of an actual coconut. We had a holiday feast of dry lasagna rolls. We swam into the evening. We saw the full moon. We slept in the same bed (oye, my back!). We played in the waves of the warmest ocean water I’ve ever been in. We watched little sea snails make tracks in the sand. We layed in the sun. And the sand. We ate mountains of french fries. I wore a bikini. We got sunburned and tired. We had everything we needed, and didn’t want for anything. We did miss our families, but we didn’t miss the hustle and bustle of getting shit done.
Santa even filled our stockings.
And everything was appreciated. The kids didn’t complain about what they didn’t get. As a matter of fact, there was more happiness – genuine laughter and smiles and happiness – then we have had in quite some time. Both kids agreed that we should do this every year. And I agree! We left that beach house with our souls recharged.
Of course, next year we won’t be in a financially inferior country to afford this type of vacation. Maybe next year we’ll bake cookies again. Maybe I’ll decorate to the nines, as usual. Maybe we’ll even have snow. I do know for sure though, that next year we’ll have this same family time, the laughter and fun and togetherness.
I can only hope it’ll come with some tan lines, but it will most definitely be soul recharging.