Folks who have known me for a while, or at least know me pretty well, are probably well acquainted with my generally low-key approach to the holidays.
I’m probably not quite the Scrooge I was in my pre-parenthood days but nobody is likely to confuse with any of Santa’s elves either. Just not in my nature I reckon. Still, I’m not totally unaware or disinterested in the season this year, if anything I’ve probably developed a bit more perspective on it than I’ve had in quite a while.
As I’ve enjoyed a variety of pictures on Facebook lately it has struck me that I’m transitioning into another phase of life as the holidays go. Among my friends I have at least my fair share of both relatively new parents and relatively new grandparents. Even grumpy old me has enjoyed some of the cutest Christmas pictures to ever be caught in digital form (can’t really say “film” any more). See, cantankerous as I might be, I’m not the person you’ll catch complaining about pictures and stories about other people’s kids and grandkids. I actually enjoy all that stuff, it’s part & parcel (and often the best part) of the lives of the people I know & care enough about to have in my digital circle. I’m quite content to enjoy it with them if they’re willing to share.
At the same time, this year has also highlighted some of the quirks of Christmas at my house. For example, it’s been a while since we’ve even made much pretense on trying to hold back my son’s presents until 12/25. He’ll be 15 next spring, his presents have been from us rather than Santa for quite a while now, honestly I don’t see much point in being overly worried about the calendar. Once the school break starts, especially now that exams are part of the mix leading up to the break, as far as I’m concerned Christmas is underway and he’s more than earned as much time to enjoy those gifts as he can squeeze in before going back to the grind. I don’t see much opportunity for kids to be kids these days, nor even teens to be teens, so the notion of keeping stuff sitting untouched simply because of the vagaries of the calendar strikes me as somewhere between silly & wasteful. I’m not dogging anybody who does it, just saying that it really doesn’t fit my own personal worldview & would be uncomfortable for me.
He’s also at an age where I can just straight up ask “do you think we’re kinda ruining Christmas for you?” and get a pretty reasoned response. Luckily I think he’s long since figured out that what passes for “normal” around here — Christmas or otherwise — may not be “normal” to a lot of other folks but that we do a pretty good job of figuring out what works best for us … and that there’s value in that.
The other thing that struck me tonight, part of the realization about how I’m entering a transitional phase of my own life, is that there’s a reasonable chance that I’m now closer to a hypothetical grandchild’s first Christmas than I am to my own child’s first Christmas. Do the math, if he ends up with a kid before he’s 30 then that’s pretty much where we’re at. If he happens to read this I’m sure he’ll be suitably horrified by that sort of math but math is objective, it doesn’t care whether we like it or not, it just is what it is.
I think that all contributes to me feeling a little more mellow this Christmas. Not melancholy, just kind of laid back. Like I said, I’ve never been a big Christmas guy but the difference in pressure & pace this year was noticeable to me versus the past decade or two. And that’s in spite of work being unusually busy in November & December this year. Maybe that’s part of the difference, the past 4-5 weeks were so crazy with other stuff that I didn’t have as much time to stress about this present or that decoration or this meal or whatever.
Not sure there’s a whole lot of brilliant revelation here, I’m absolutely certain that this contains nothing unique. Maybe once in a while a blog post just serves to mark where we are at some point in time, a little mile marker on the highway of life.
If nothing else, it’s a chance for me to wish my readers a Merry Christmas. May all of your assembly required be easy and all of the batteries that weren’t included be the right size.