Before we left on our week-long Christmas trip on December 23, I wrote the post below. It feels like a lifetime has passed since I wrote it.
Okay, so I haven't talked much about Christmas so far. And that's because Christmas (or the holiday season, I should say) has been really weird this year. I've had moments when I'm over-the-top excited about the holiday and moments when I snap out of my sleep-deprived haze for an instant and say, "Wha?? It's Christmas??"
This is our last Christmas together before we become parents. You'd think I'd be trying to rake in the presents because I won't be getting that many from here on out! (Well, maybe I will. Who knows?) And while there's a list of things that I want, I've reached the point where it just doesn't matter what I get. I've been like this for months now, but recently it came to a head.
Even though my time off to go to Texas and spend time with my family for the holiday was approved by my boss back in October, almost three weeks ago (the crappiest week ever) my right to take this vacation was almost revoked. Or it sure did seem that way. I'll spare you the details as to why, but let's just say that it wasn't pretty. After spending almost a week in limbo, wondering if I was still going to be able to take off from work, my vacation was approved (again) a couple of weeks ago.
So during that period of limbo, I had a lot of time to think about what it meant to me to be able to have this time in Texas. Obviously, it's about time with my family. But it's also about my mom seeing me pregnant with my first child, which may not happen again. It's about hanging out with my brother, who has been having a really hard time of late. It's about having Christmas at my favorite uncle's house, the one who's spent the vast majority of this year being sick (and now recovering). It's about revealing the sex of Bunlet and seeing my family's faces when they find out. It's about telling my dad that I'm pregnant. It's about making peace with the place I grew up, something I started having the desire to do back in the summer. It's about doing all these things with Roy by my side.
To have all these things potentially taken away from me....well, the thought was close to devastating. I know that seems a little over-the-top, but I'm at the point in my life where I truly realize that stuff doesn't matter. People do. Yes, I think it'd be great to get a lot of expensive photo gear, some TV shows on DVD, some new (maternity) clothes, etc, and I certainly won't say no if these things are offered. But more than anything, I just want to be with my family, who I am lucky to see once or twice a year.
And being as this vacation is a go and we have a healthy Bunlet on the way, I've already gotten everything that I want for Christmas. The rest is just a bonus.
Roy and I decided not to get each other gifts this year, in light of the expensive plane tickets to Texas. Once my uncle found out that we were all going to be there for Christmas, he asked us not to get him anything. My mom also said recently that she had hardly done any shopping and didn't really want anything. When I talked with my brother about his wants, he said that he couldn't really think of anything. So it looks like we're all just planning on having a very small Christmas, maybe with a few gifts or maybe with none at all.
And you know what? I couldn't be happier.
I love giving gifts, and I love receiving them. But I don't know, this year is just different. Maybe it's the economy, maybe it's the fact that we are soon going to be responsible for a tiny little being, but I already feel like we have too much stuff. I definitely am guilty of overindulging, because I love to collect things. We're in the process of putting aside everything we want to get rid of, including about half of our library that took us years to build. We'll sell the books on Amazon, the decent pieces of furniture on craigslist, and the rest in a yard sale. It just feels right.
What does it mean to own something, anyway? We've managed to amass quite the art collection in the time we've been together (I brought a few pieces into our relationship), and I have started to wondering what it means. It's nice to be surrounded by beautiful, inspiring things, but at the same time, you can't really own art, can you? You can't own beauty. It's an experience to be had, not something to be added to a collection.
So I guess I do have a Christmas wish after all. I want more experiences and less stuff. This year my family will get Christmas cards with special notes inside of them. There is no experience like reading (and rereading) the good things someone has to tell you.
Oh, the idealism. It gets me every time. We're not home from Texas yet, but let's just say that this vacation has fallen far short of what I wanted it to be. Stay tuned for my Christmas recap.