The holiday season is upon us, and we’ve dived in smiling, head first, arms open. With the Thanksgiving dinner behind us, we tackled our Christmas shopping Friday morning (not as early as others, mind you). We set our car radios to the all-Christmas song stations. We set out our Christmas stockings, put the wreath on the door along with a cheery yet subtle and not-too-Christmasy Happy Holidays wall sign, and set out three small trees with some Christmas lights on our front porch. As of today, almost all of our Christmas shopping is complete and half of our presents are wrapped. Buddy Boo helped me wrap some presents while sitting on our dining table. Turns out, he loves tissue paper – the crinkling sound of the paper as he smashes it between his hands is fascinating to him. Next week, we pick up our tree from the Christmas tree farm and address our holiday cards. Yep, we’re pretty excited for Buddy Boo’s first Christmas. Now we’re not only continuing our own traditions as husband and wife, but we’re laying the foundation for our traditions as our own family. It’s a thought that is exciting, but also seems to have a huge amount of responsibility attached to it.
Each year, we host Christmas dinner at our house. We bring out the extra tables from the garage and extra chairs and cook a big meal for anywhere from 10 to 15 people. As a new mom, I’m wondering how the meal preparation will go this year. It’s not so bad cooking a regular meal with Boo; we either take turns holding him or he sits in his bouncy seat while we pretend to put on a cooking show for him. But a meal that is a bigger production and has more specific timing involved may be trickier. I’m still trying to figure out how it will all work out.
After the dinner we usually tear into the presents. In my family, there are a lot of them. Santa would need to make several trips with a jam-packed sleigh to take over all of the gifts my parents buy for family members and friends. My parents go nuts, and I have a feeling this year they will jump beyond the border of lunacy when it comes to gift giving for their first grandson. Last year, Boo received more presents than we did – and he wasn’t even born yet!
One reason there are usually a lot of presents is because, quite frankly, there are a lot of us. On my side of the family, there’s me and my brother, but then there are the aunts, uncles, cousins and more cousins, grandparents, grandaunts and granduncles, second cousins, family friends whom we’ve called our aunts and uncles since we were babies, their children whom we’ve called our cousins but really aren’t, friends who don’t have family nearby and are staying in town for the holidays, friends of our relatives whom we grew up with, and some people that I’m not quite sure how we’ve come to know them but they are a part of our lives. This is my family. If you have come into our lives somehow – by blood or by chance – you are a part of our family. We’re a big, loud, rambunctious, and overly joyous group. Most of my family lives somewhere on the West Coast – from Canada down to San Diego, with a couple of East Coasters and family in the Philippines and random countries like Luxembourg. We haven’t all been in the same room in a very long time, and we don’t all get together for Christmas, but when I was little we used to get together more often for highly stimulating, overactive laugh fests overwhelming with love. I cherish the memory of them. I hope Boo will someday have similar memories of his own.
I also hope he learns from the love of my husband’s family. His family is almost the opposite of mine in many ways. The main opposite being that there are less of them. He has his mom, his dad, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, four cousins, one aunt and one uncle. That’s it. I can count all of them on my two hands and a few toes. They live spread out throughout the world, but they still see each other at least once a year. Whereas my family is the heart-racing, screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-from-exhiliration part of a roller coaster ride, his family is the part of the ride where you turn the corner onto more even railing, breathe a sigh of relief and ride evenly for a few moments while enjoying the view with a calm smile. I love his family dearly. They are kind, witty, hilarious, politely frank, and welcoming. Theirs is a quieter love but a grand, grand love nonetheless. I feel so lucky to know them, and I absoutely relish that Boo will also grow up knowing all of them, enjoying family time of a different kind.
Christmas will not be too loud at our place this year. I think we are expecting 14 people total for dinner. We hope to someday spend Christmas with A’s family as well, since that’s important to us, especially now with Boo. We hope to provide some balance for Boo, so he can experience as much of the worlds we grew up in as possible. So he can know just how much love there is in our family. So that he will always know that not only do we love him with every tiny fiber of our souls, but that there is a world of people who love him just as much, wherever he goes.