I had a very different kind of holiday this year. Trying to make some sense of it all in my tiny mind. Felt more appreciation, gratitude and peace than I have in a very long time. And yet it was tinged with a bit of sadness. Maybe melancholy would be a more apt word.
It was the first year in my life as a parent that I spent Christmas without my kids. Yes I'm a Jew. But a non-practicing one. I spent my childhood with a Christmas tree, presents on Christmas morning, chocolate croissants for breakfast and a festive family meal - turkey or lasagna, never ham - in the early evening. We didn't go to church. But we certainly celebrated Christmas.
I love celebrating. I love holidays. Birthdays. All of it. I love taking the moment to be with family, to practice gratitude. I love giving gifts and the feeling of generosity that pervades these moments. Not generosity in giving 'stuff'. Generosity of kindness. Yes it can be carried throughout the year. But we forget. And each year during the holidays, or maybe during a birthday - your spouse, your mom, your best friend - we remember to tell each other not just THAT we love each other, but why. I love this.
This holiday my kids were with my ex-husband. And I was ok. I wasn't even sad. I spent the days prior with my boyfriend. I want a better word for what he is. But we'll use that one for now. The feeling of gratitude I felt waking up Christmas morning with him - even though my kids weren't there bouncing in my room, yelling at me to wake up "It's Christmas!!!" - was astonishing. I've never been one to lounge around. I'm up and at 'em all the way. But I feel, with him, that I can sit. And be. Is it age? Is it him? Is it wisdom? Am I just tired? Who knows.
He left to spend the rest of the day with his mom and dad (not in a Christmasy way, he is a practicing Jew) and I spent it with my brother and nephews. We had a very regular day. And that made it all the lovelier. We made cookies. We went to the park. Hit tennis balls. Ate Chinese food. And lit the Hanukkah candles. Then I came home and my boys transitioned to me. We lit the candles (again, they wanted to) and exchanged gifts. It was quiet. And perfect.
This morning we opened the rest of our gifts, tried out the new baseball bat at the park. Went to a movie and had Hanukkah dinner at my brother's. Again we lit the candles. This ritual has never been important to me. Has never really been a part of my life. But now, with two people in my life that it matters to - my sister in law (we've done it the last few years together) and Steven (better than "boyfriend") - I can replicate it and find the peace in it. In ritual.
I will spend the week with my kids. And New Year's Eve. My brother and his family will move to LA a few days after that. This is what brings the melancholy this holiday season. They have been my solace, my fun, my comfort, my family this year. No way I'd have gotten through without going crazy if they hadn't been here. I love that the boys play together like brothers, none of the artifice of friends or cousins. They fight. They say they don't like each other sometimes. And then they take care of each other. I don't want them to lose that.
I don't want to lose that.
But I can handle it now. I'm on my feet. I have someone that looks after me. That I can look after. I will visit. I will have a new niece or nephew soon. I will miss them all. The patient and abiding friendship of my sister in law (she's smart, funny, wise and tolerates my neediness with her husband). Harry, my oldest nephew, spending the night. Ike, my youngest nephew, falling asleep on the couch with me. And of course, Chris. C-bro. The bestest little brother a girl could have. Thanks for hanging my television, hooking up my internet, making it so I didn't completely fall apart when I moved out almost a year and half ago and my whole family blew up. What can I say to thank a guy for that? I got your back. Whatever you need.