Several years ago, in the throes of holiday hubbub and debacle, my cat attempted to climb the Christmas tree.
As all of these stories go — and we all have one of these stories — the tree came crashing down, breaking almost every single ornament in the process. Left over and free of harm, however, were all the home made ornaments — the cotton ball sheep that were supposed to follow the store bought shepherds, the feather and pipe cleaner angels that were supposed to sing beneath the beautiful store bought star, the egg shell crèches that have a place on this earth even if we haven’t found it yet . . .
Our family Christmas tree that year was a sight. It was broken and skinny and lopsided and flamboyantly over-decorated with dollar store icicles filling in the gaps all the show ornaments had vacated. Some might have called it a disaster, but in an immediate family of six — four of who are males — this wasn’t disaster level. This was just Christmas.
Growing up a minister’s daughter I got used to the random Christmas routine. We had our traditions — stockings that absolutely had to be placed at our sleeping feet even if it meant Santa had to stop every where else in the world first while waiting for the Parker’s to actually fall asleep — but things shifted often. Different towns, different church services, different dinner guests — these things were par for the course. Christmas was still Christmas even if we had to wait for Boxing Day to have it.
Which is why I surprised myself when I threw a full-blown fit this year trying to combine my first Christmas with a significant other.
While I’ve never been one of those women who has a hard time introducing boyfriends to the family, involving one in Christmas always seemed different. Perhaps it’s because my three fully-adult brothers and I still choose to wear matching pyjamas and sleep in my parents attic together on the 24th (weird), perhaps it’s because I feel like my personal Christmas experience will be taken away from me (selfish), or perhaps it’s an all-too real reminder that one day, my family isn’t going to just include the people I’m used to overdosing on eggnog and rum around.
Needless to say, I had major conniptions. Hysterics, even. Sharing Christmas with someone else — not just at my home, but at his home — opened up a whole can of worms I was not prepared to hook, line and sink.
I put off Christmas shopping until this past week and I normally have it done by November 30th. I got a mean flu and had to force my pathetic self to go buy thoughtful gifts when all I wanted to do was wake up on December 27th with it all over. I wore really, really uncomfortable high heels to my church Christmas concert and wanted to swear through every rendition of every Christmas carol, ever.
But then I heard something and no, it wasn’t sleigh bells. It was Taylor Swift.
The song Silent Night has never been my favourite It’s beautiful and haunting and when done in the dark can make me cry, but it’s not my number one. Then again, my current favourite Christmas song is Darcy the Dragon by Roger Whittaker, so what right do I have? Anyway, Taylor Swift does Silent Night differently. Really differently — and I’ve been listening to it on repeat for a week. It makes me feel magnificent.
In any family, the essence of Christmas lies in the ability to come together on Christmas morning and feel blessed. If not for what lies under the tree, or what might lie ahead come the 26th, for each other. Things will go awry, things will happen out of our control and most importantly, things are going to change.
Yes. In the time of tradition — sometimes seemingly unbreakable tradition — things are going to change.
And just like Taylor Swift’s version of Silent Night, things are still going to be beautiful.