Christmas by the Seat of My Pants

by the seat of my pants

There was never any question.

On Easter we drove to Pennsylvania, discovered giant baskets of chocolate, hunted for colored eggs in the yard, and ate ham, brussels sprouts and creamed cucumbers for dinner. There was always a cake shaped like a lamb with coconut frosting and jelly beans for eyes.

On Thanksgiving, we spent hours in traffic on our way to Pennsylvania, watched the Macy’s parade in our pajamas, and ate a giant turkey dinner with all the trimmings. When we were almost hungry again, we’d fit pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip into our bellies.

We spent Christmas in Connecticut. My sister and I would get up before dawn to discover stockings filled with goodies that always included a deck of cards and a Whitman’s Sampler. We made coffee for the grown-ups, and Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (with the orange icing), then raced upstairs to wake them all up so we could open the presents under the tree.

There was never any question.

Traditions are like that. They are as familiar as a pair of old jeans—pull them on and there you have it! Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas.

But what happens when the jeans don’t fit anymore? For whatever reason, what happens when you find yourself staring down the biggest holiday of them all, and you have no idea what to do next?

I’ll be honest with you…I have no idea.

This is nothing new. I’ve been wandering pantless through the holidays for a while now. Each one, for the past dozen years or so, a patchwork of what they were and what they “should” be; what I remembered them being and what I thought would make other people happy.

What is new is that I just remembered I have the power to redfine them for myself.

[Click those heels together, Dorothy, it’s been with you all along!]

So I started by writing down some words, setting my intentions for the month ahead: happy, good food, calm, friends, enjoyable, nourishing.

I remember baking cookies one Christmas and singing along with Bing Crosby.

I add that to the list.

There was the Christmas I trekked out at sunrise and watched the gulls dance along the waves in the harbor.

That goes on the list, too.

White Christmas
roast chicken
red wine
morning writing
Ring Out Solstice Bells
afternoon nap
thumbprint cookies
walk in the woods
sparkly lights

And that’s me right now. Just making a list and checking it twice—and wondering what kind of new traditions we might find under the tree this year.

All I want for christmas...

6 Responses

  1. TJB Googins

    i really miss actual photographs that showed the month and the year (jan 68, yours says. so we can deduce that this was jen’s christmas tree in 1967 – and you were, what, two or three? i was in the ninth grade!!) and yes, xmas is becoming a huge millstone around my neck these days! thanks for this post – it’s right on, as usual

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