Christmas is almost around the corner – how did that happen? There are so many things left to do for me, I don’t really know where to start. I’ve spent the last few days preparing for Christmas in various small ways.
The first, very unpleasant thing I needed to tackle was a talk with my brother in law. I told him in no uncertain terms that Christmas this year will have to be very different from the last few Christmases as far as mood and atmosphere are concerned, or it will have been the last Christmas we can all celebrate together as a family.
Christmas in my family has always been rather awkward, marked by stress, fighting and general hysteria. Ever since my mother died, it’s been less than harmonious and I very much need to change that for my own little family.
After last year’s disaster – which involved my brother in law freaking out and causing a terrible scene – I decided that something had to change. Unfortunately, my brother in law has proven impossible to talk to, so I eventually had to come to the realization that I really only have one option: I need to be aware of what I want and then set about achieving it.
I talked to my father, master of non-confrontation, my sister, mistress of suppression and my brother in law, overlord of fury. I made it very clear that I will NOT tolerate this any longer and that my daughter will not grow up to know Christmas as a dreaded time of year, full of resentment and anger. I want happiness, joy and a general feeling of love and contentment, damn it!
Naturally, my wishes were not very well received. My father, who never seems to be able to take a stand in an argument, but rather chooses to unload unto me when he feels the time is right (thereby always leaving me completely burdened not just with my own sadness, but also his), said he just won’t be there if there’s any argument brewing. My sister figures ignoring whatever happened on the last few Christmases is the best way to go and forever excuses her husband’s conduct, putting the blame anywhere but on him. Finally, my brother in law could absolutely not recall what happened last year, so I gently reminded him how he yelled at me for no reason and then proceeded to lapse into silence on Christmas Eve, alternating between staring at the dinner table and poking at his dinner, complaining about the quality of our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The Lad, the Munchkin and I left the dinner table very soon after the presents were opened that day, as the atmosphere had gotten too heavy to bear.
Honestly, I am weary of all this. So very, very tired. I have now done what I could. I told each and every one of them I want Christmas to be beautiful and special for our little girl and ourselves and that if there is even any hint of a negative atmosphere brewing, we’ll be leaving, going to our place and spending a nice Christmas by ourselves – just the three of us. We shall see how it goes, but I am absolutely prepared to do whatever it takes. If things go South, we’ll head to our apartment and we will celebrate in our own way. I love my family dearly, but I don’t want to take this kind of thing any longer.
This year is the first year that our Bean realizes what’s going on as far as Christmas is concerned. Everyone and everything she sees sporting a red Santa hat and red scarf is ‘Santa Caus’ to her and she happily exclaims ‘Chismas twee’ every time we walk past one of the Christmas displays in the city. When she was born, the Lad started a tradition of buying one Christmas tree ornament per year – for us to use on our trees for now and eventually for the Munchkin to take with her when she leaves home. I love this little tradition. The Lad and the Munchkin have already been out together to buy this year’s ornament, or two of them, rather, a Christmas tree and a star made from white porcelain.
As far as Christmas traditions go, I am trying to come up with our own ways to celebrate. We’re combining two traditions, of course, so things are a little bit confusing at this point.
I am not quite sure yet how we will handle things. Decorations will go up around the weekend of the 28th. There will be advent calendars. On December 6th, St. Nikolaus will come and deposit a little something for the Munchkin, as is his habit. We will craft ornaments, bake cookies, hopefully make a gingerbread house and fruit cake (the Lad would love this, as it reminds him of his home), go on Christmas markets and listen to classic Christmas songs (English, not German ones. Traditional German Christmas music is often so depressing). We celebrate and open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve around here – as it’s the German custom I grew up with, we’ll keep this tradition. Honouring British tradition, we’ll also have presents, cookies, a nice meal, lots of snuggling and spending quality time together on December 25th.
As far as what we’ll tell our Munchkin about Christmas, I think we won’t have to prepare ourselves for that quite yet. We’re getting together around Christmas to celebrate our togetherness, to be even closer as a family, take the opportunity to remember how blessed we are to have each other, to take time out to be with each other and just…be a family. There will be Santa Claus in our house and St. Nikolaus will visit us, too, as I honour the sentiment of this tradition.
I am guessing that we will have to explain Christmas and its origins to our Munchkin sometime next year. Hopefully we will manage to convey everything in such a fashion that she will feel completely free to develop her own ideas and faith in whatever she wants to believe in when the time gets there. All I really want is for her to remember Christmas at home fondly, as a time of warmth, wonder and love.