Christmas with my family has gotten gradually less traditional over the past couple of years. When I was younger, Christmas Day was dragging toes down the stairs, yawning in our pajamas as we dug through gifts and stockings. There was a dance-like rhythm to it, tradition falling in place like clockwork as we worked through the day’s festivities. In more recent years, it’s been different, it’s been me, sliding out of bed while it’s still dark outside, nodding off during my fourth round of A Christmas Story, waiting for my mom to make her way out of bed at some point halfway through the morning. My siblings, their spouses and their kids came later during stop two or three on their five stop tour.
But this year will be even more unfamiliar. I won’t be waking up at the buttcrack of dawn, crawling out of bed in the same place I grew up. My mom won’t be filling up stockings this year or making turkey for dinner, and as has been set up recently as a new tradition since my siblings have had kids, gifts will be limited to a name drawing for adults so that everyone can spend more on the children.
I imagine that this is the progression of things. As you get older, naturally things change, but there’s something bittersweet about the first holiday season as a married adult. Our house is decorated beautifully, my wife and I have dug deeply into holiday traditions, but I think more so than any season or holiday, Christmas brings about familiarity—not just for me but for everyone. Whether it’s chopping down a tree of your own, baking cookies, going skiing, or rolling up to Grandma’s, there’s something with which to associate during this time of year, making change all the more difficult. I imagine my brother felt this and my sister’s too when they were newly married, but being the youngest, I’m bringing up the rear after years of their having gotten used to it.
And one day I will get used to it too. The traditions between my wife and I will be my most loved traditions and those traditions will be the ones that my kids cherish growing up. But right now, adult Christmas is a strange holiday beast, one that is a little odd and unfamiliar—and not all bad.