Traditions are wonderful. But sometimes, so is breaking them. We celebrated our first ever, just-the-four-of-us, at home Christmas. Solid Midwesterners of English and Scandinavian descent, we are about as far from Southern as you can get. But this was our year to do as we pleased. The kids decided on barbecue. So barbecue it was—ribs, corn bread, Bourbon baked beans, mashed potatoes, collards—The Blind Boys of Alabama playing in the background. The only thing missing was the sweet tea and sweet potato pie. No need to be rigid. We drank beer and ate an Anna dessert creation —chocolate crumb crust, chocolate mousse, raspberries, cream—you get the picture.
The kids, just free from term papers and finals, slept until they could sleep no more. With nowhere to drive to, we opened presents leisurely and randomly at one o’clock in the afternoon. We didn’t bother with the dishes and went to a movie instead.
But at this age, joy is rarely pure. This quiet Christmas at home meant not being with my father his first Christmas as a widower. He refuses to travel and I work at a book store. Working retail has its downsides. Holiday work schedules are one.
So it was partly my work schedule that kept us home this year. But it was more than that. I wanted this quiet, fluid, easy holiday. Having it felt essential. By next Christmas, Pat may be living and working in Japan. Mom is gone. We have donated her clothes, gifted her treasures, rearranged the house for my father. Somewhere off in the cosmos, a giant page has turned. The center has shifted. It is the way of the world.