When I was growing up, we always celebrated the twelve days of Christmas. Well, not all of them, but the two at each end - Christmas day, and the Feast of the Epiphany. I remember as a child having a special meal and receiving a small gift each January sixth, and when I was older, going to huge bonfires where everyone brought their trees to burn. Not really a mainstream American habit, to say the least, but it is something that has stuck with me through the years. The lead up to Christmas is always very exciting, but it is often marred by mass consumerism and stress, whereas the days after Christmas are a time of calm and reflection. Like I said in my last blog, we are not to quick to put up the tree in the early days of December, but that's because we keep it up each year until the sixth - at least - and what fun is burning a completely dead tree? None at all...
Another wonderful element of the week after Christmas for our family, is that Matt has the entire week off from work! (Actually, because Christmas fell on a weekend this year, he had almost TWO weeks off work, all said and done) That is a gift more special than anything we could find under the tree. It is so nice to relax every day, have nowhere to go, nothing to do. It's great to have an extra set of hands for the small tasks that need to be done every day around the house, and to be able to spend time doing our own personal projects as well. Most of all, it is just great to be together as a family without any interruption. To play in the snow, (what little we had) and sit by the fire, listening to Matty - plinky, plinky, plink - on his banjo. It's so rejuvenating to be able to take a break from the stop-and-go of everyday and collect ourselves, to renew our energy stores for the new year to come.
This New Year holiday, we decided to go up to Vermont - why? I don't know - and it turned out to be a nice change of pace. Read: doing the above mentioned things in a different location with free babysitters. Emerson got to partake in some Extreme Sledding with my seventy-five year old mother, and the kids had enough sticky snow to build a snowman for the first time this winter - before it rained the next day. (We drove home in 50 degree weather)
We skipped the partying this year in lieu of "First Night: Town I Grew Up In" and that was a nice change too. We brought the kids to see a magician (which Emerson loved) and also partook in some music and kids' activities, all of which took place in my former high-school! (Weird...) It was fun though -surprisingly. We topped off our evening watching some fire dancing in the street, and bringing the kids home to bang some pots and pans on the porch to ring in the New Year (at 8pm).
Matty and followed that up with a jaunt up the road to my high-school friend's parents' house -KEGGER! (just kidding) - where we sat around having a few beers, talking about our kids, and barely acknowledging the ball-dropping, midnight madness. Which is how it should be when you're thirty-six - watching the fireworks from the window is nice (which we did), but I don't need to be out in the action anymore. It was just great to catch up with an old friend and not have to worry about getting pulled over on the way home.
So here is what I've taken from my two week hiatus from "real" life. I don't care. Not in the apathetic, "I don't care about anything, but really I do" attitude I carried throughout high school, but the "I care about things that are important, and fuck the rest" attitude I have adopted over the past couple of weeks. There are important things in life, and I DO care about them. I care about my children and my loved ones, and I care about what happens to them. I have empathy towards every other living being, be it human, animal, plant, earth in general, and I want what is best for them as well. I care that I have warmth, food, and happiness. But is there really anything else that is important after these things?
I'll tell you what I don't care about. I don't care that I have debt. It doesn't keep me up at night. I don't care if my daughter makes it to school on time or not. I don't care that I am not keeping up with the Jones'. (Whoever they are) I don't care that my house continues to get messier and messier as I do things I like to do - bake cookies, play with my children, write my blog... These, and many stupid issues like them, often cause stress in my life, and stand firmly in my way of my enjoyment of life. And maybe I am just giving lip service to all of this because I have just come off a very long holiday, but I really do believe that some of this "after Christmas" joy is seeping into the rest of my life. I surely hope so. I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions, but resolving to have fun and show my children that life is good - not errands -sounds good to me.