Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007--can we have a do-over?

blue! orange! elevators!
christmas day meltdown

father's heart breaking
brotherly compassion lives
brave little trooper

Christmas didn't go well for my little family this year. Everything was closed, including the McDonald's that's always been open before on Christmas day. T's entire local ritual is based on going to retail establishments either to shop or ride elevators, and he couldn't handle not being able to have the rituals that he anticipates and needs. A was a good sport about it all.

We never really had Christmas traditions when I was a kid. Every year, we'd drive from Oklahoma to Baton Rouge, where we stayed at my grandmother's house. We shuttled around the area to various relatives' homes, and spent a great deal of time with a set of relatives whom, quite honestly, I viewed as my inferiors--I mean, my mother made us wear shoes, for heaven's sake. Christmas day opened with us ripping open our packages, then waiting for the various and sundry relatives to arrive. The group was always very loud, and there were so many people there that chaos was the norm. The adults would watch meaningless football games on television with the volume turned up all the way, and the table talk was about scintillating topics like planning for retirement and how black people had a secret plan to take over the Deep South. The same pattern continued, only at our house, after my dad died and we moved to Baton Rouge. I would usually retreat to my bedroom with a book once the noise began to numb my brain.

DW's family is certainly not perfect, but they have relatively elaborate Christmas traditions. The children in the extended family perform a nativity skit, and presents aren't opened until pretty much everybody gets there. I did think it a bit odd that presents were passed out one at a time, to be opened in front of everyone, but it gave me a fabulous opening when DW's brother-in-law got so fascinated by his new electric drill that he didn't hear his name called on the next round. "Stop playing with your tool and get over there," I muttered to DW, who shouted my words out loud.

I think it would be neat to give my kids more memorable Christmases than I had, and DW would like to give the kids the kinds of Christmases she remembers. However, our reality is such that we have to adapt to our circumstances and do the best we can. The kids had some fun this time around, and they did like the merchandise Santa brought them, so it wasn't all bad--but my heart is still broken.

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