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A Perfectly Boring Christmas

Not really boring, per se. Maybe routine is the word I am looking for. Hmm, now that I think of it getting a wicked sunburn while hanging the lights on the house has never been a part of my routine. Frostbite maybe… I have spent most of my life in places where winter is a time for hats and mittens, and dreaming of a white Christmas is not a futile endeavor. Despite living in southern regions for our last four Christmases, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the shorts-and- t-shirt weather we had for our first Texas Christmas routine. No, routine isn’t the word.

It wasn’t a perfect Christmas either. I don’t think those exist outside of those old Currier and Ives cards. In fact, you’ll feel a great burden slide from your shoulders once you accept the fact that those idyllic snapshots you see on people’s holiday cards and social media are moments that are inevitably intertwined with the drama that comes with being human. It’s a package deal. Perfect definitely is not the word I am looking for.

Maybe I’m suffering from writer’s block and the descriptor I need has slipped just beyond my reach. It’s somewhere out there partying with all the other adjectives and nouns that so love to tease. What was my Christmas?

Or, maybe it was too many things all at once: a perfectly imperfect jumble of dichotomies: excitement and boredom, routine and novelty, a return to tradition in a totally new setting.

It wasn’t our first Christmas living in the South. It was, however, our first southern Christmas in a construction-free, totally unpacked house. I had almost forgotten what it felt like not to have to step over boxes, power tools, or actual pieces of wall to get to the tree … when there was one.

Our Christmases living in Florida have become somewhat of a jumbled blur in my mind now. We started with A Spit and Glue Christmas, were thrown into turmoil by our second Christmas, when Little Man’s gift list consisted of one simple desire: a home with walls and windows (Bah… Humbled), and ended our Florida holiday experience in the throws of a global pandemic while scrambling to get construction finished so we could sell the house, move, and reunite the family (Moving Away).

Three Christmases? Really? Did we spend three whole Christmases in Florida? I can’t even fully recall decorating the outside of that house for the holidays, a tradition I adore. And sadly, one I was really only able to follow the first year we were there.

This does NOT count

Maybe it all boils down to a matter of perception. After years of searching for a glimmer of light at the end of what I hoped was a tunnel but seemed more like a bottomless pit, this Christmas felt like a leap out into fresh air and blue skies (hot, sunburny skies). Events that I would once have considered to be missteps, hiccups, or disasters, no longer seemed that terrible. Our house had walls this Christmas, and windows, and was not brewing with clandestine unwanted invaders (knock on wood). And, everyone was relatively healthy (all lungs inflated). I didn’t get the cards out or enough cookies made, but the world did not implode. I have been ridimensionata, as they say in Italian … become more realistic.

Despite living in a new region, a new state, and a new house, there was a comforting feeling of familiarity this year. The fresh tree was decked out with decorations from Christmases spanning back to my childhood. The stockings hung in a row, on a different fireplace, but in their usual order. And, though the Christmas village had pulled up stakes and moved to Texas, the villagers suffered the same scourge that has traditionally plagued them for many a holiday season…

It was a season of contrasts. There were coughs and colds, followed by that special new anxiety that occurs between the swab and its results, and sighs of relief at the appearance of a single line. There were submissions and rejections, followed by the publishing of a short story I hold dear to my heart (which you can read here 😉 :

I hopped back into the car this year with the kids and trekked north to carefully and safely embrace friends and relatives we had not seen in years and even met new ones, but still did not have the time or energy to visit everyone I’d hoped to see. We were hit with the harsh reality that we were no longer used to freezing cold temps, but rejoiced at seeing snow without having to drive in it. Perhaps bittersweet? Is that the word? No, it felt more positive, like a step in a more promising direction.

So, maybe it wasn’t a perfectly boring Christmas. Perhaps it deserves its very own category. The overcoming of past challenges gave it an odd feeling of chaotic tranquility, novel familiarity. Mayhaps there is no fitting adjective, a proper ending to an indescribable few years.

And, as we all settle into this new reality, with known and unknown challenges still ahead, I would like to wish you all a safe, healthy, and perfectly imperfect 2022. May your hearts and minds be open, tolerant, and full of grace!

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