Christmas, when you have small children, is a much different holiday than when you have adult children. When you throw into the mix of having a job that usually starts in a different state a few days after Christmas, you have to work hard to find that holiday feeling. This Christmas is the second year in a row where Rob and I had left Nashville before Christmas and had to travel back home for the weekend or are leaving right after Christmas. The two years before that we had the bakery and worked on Christmas. It has been an enormous struggle to get into the spirit of Christmas let alone to be able to find the actual holiday feeling. It has also been quite a while since we have even had a Christmas tree and this is the first of those years I didn’t even cook. However, this year I believe I found that holiday feeling and I was surprised.
I come from a huge Italian family. When I was younger, we did the whole Seven Fishes thing on Christmas Eve and Christmas mornings was a huge deal. Even now my family immediate family has grown into a whopping 24 people. That is just my siblings, their children and my parents so if we all lived in the same state, holidays would be overbearing to most people, and it is usually for our spouses. However, growing up in a large family makes it hard to adjust to a small quiet Christmas, but this year I finally have managed to achieve the holiday spirit even without a Christmas tree.
After a late morning of opening gifts, we wandered four blocks from our apartment and had a fancy Italian meal. There was sauce, there were meatballs, there was vodka, there were smiles, there were laughs, and there were bellies that were stuffed just as much as if I had cooked. It was the usual long drawn out affair but for once I was able actually to sit down and enjoy my family without being 100% exhausted from cooking. I didn’t rush through my meal to be able to clean up the kitchen to get ready for dessert. I was able to sit at the table without a care in the world and just be grateful and thankful. Thankful for my beautiful daughter who graduates with her Masters in May. Thankful I could look at the other end of the table and see my beautiful daughter-in-law and her handsome husband, my son and see the love and happiness radiating from them. I looked next to my husband, who is always uncomfortable during the holiday and he was laughing and having a good time. I put down my knife and fork and sat back in my chair and was overwhelmed with the love that I felt for these four people. They were my everything, and I felt incredibly lucky that we were able to all be around the table together this Christmas.
When we wandered back to the apartment and sat our stuffed bellies on the couch, I thought of all the packing I needed to get done in order to be able to drive away from those faces for a few months. For the first time, it will easier for me to leave my little chickens because they are happy adults with lives of their own. I sat on my couch and thought how life changes and evolves and if you are lucky you figure out how also to evolve. When you figure out that formula, life is good.