Christmas time is upon us; snow is falling, the fire’s roaring, hot chocolate brewing and…wait, no it’s not. It’s 20 or so degrees out (read 70’s for my farenheit friends), the sun is shining, the fan’s blowing, and the ice in my drink is melting. Warm weather on Christmas isn’t exactly new to me (growing up I spent every other Christmas in Arizona with my dad) but I’m still finding it difficult to adjust to yet another summer Christmas…it just doesn’t feel right. Tis the season to be jolly, yet I find my second wave of homesickness washing over me.
Maybe it’s because I don’t even have my Furneaux family this time around, but the holidays this year have been feeling a bit more lonely than usual. I just moved into a new flat, which is very exciting since I have moved in with Rickie, B and Maia, yet at the same time a bit sad since we have left “the wolfpack” at the hostel. My first summer Christmas (last year) was spent talking to my family on the phone for a bit in the morning, eating a huge brunch with everyone, and spending the afternoon drinking mimosas, swimming, and tanning on the jetty in the sunshine. While it wasn’t a typical Christmas for me, I was still surrounded by the family we all at Furneaux had become. A typical Christmas for me paints a much different picture.
Growing up, Christmas meant gathering the family in early to mid December for our annual picking of the Christmas tree. (As the years progressed this day transformed from all of us spending hours on the tedious task of selecting ‘the perfect tree’ to being forcefully dragged out the door on this mission only to end with us freezing in the lot despite our coats and mittens whining, “Mom, just pick one already!”) After finally picking a tree, my mom, brother and I would pull out all the ornaments and spend the day decorating the tree together. If there was snow on the ground (which you will be hard pressed to find nowadays in Boise) we would bundle up in countless layers of clothing and rush outside to build snowmen and snow forts. After our fingers and toes had gone numb and we could feel our ears and nose stinging, we would head back inside to warm up by the fire. Christmas season for me means cold weather, coats, scarves, mittens, roaring fires, colorfully lit houses, decorated lawns, abundance of Christmas music and praying for snow on Christmas morning. Christmas means being able to walk into my kitchen and find Christmas candy in the candy bowl, examining my mom’s small jewel adorned ornament tree in the living room and discovering something new on it each time I look, feeling excitement well up within me at the prospect of new presents each time the doorbell rang, and getting excited over mail.
Kenny and I used to beg our parents to let us open up a present on Christmas Eve, and they finally relented under the condition that they get to choose the gift that we opened. Without fail, the present they chose would always be a pair of pajamas. We were always pumped to open a present on Christmas Eve despite our knowledge of what it was going to be, and it became a tradition early on in my childhood. We would go to bed with the gleeful anticipation of Santa paying our house a visit to fill our stocking and leave gifts under the tree.
Even after we no longer lived under the illusion that Santa was real, Christmas morning was still an exciting time. Each year Kenny and Paul (both all bright eyed and bushy tailed) would come running to my room early in the morning to wake me up (all bleary eyed and ogresque) so I could sort through my stocking and we could all move on to presents. In my younger years we would compete to find the baby Jesus (a small sculpture of baby Jesus from our shelf-size manger set) that our parents hid somewhere in the house to determine who got to open the first present. In the few years before I left for uni, that competition included ‘find the pickle’ (similar in nature, but this was a bright green dill pickle ornament that was hidden somewhere on the tree), a game we had adopted from family friends. After opening presents we would migrate into the kitchen for breakfast where my mom had baked a delicious eggy cinnamony bready concoction. I don’t actually remember what it was called, but it was absolutely delicious. The rest of the day would be spent playing with our toys before sitting down together for a nice dinner that ended with our close family friends coming over for dessert.
The other night I helped Maia pack last minute and wrap all her presents before she took off for Queenstown to be with her family for Christmas. It was after waving her goodbye as she ran out the door to catch her flight and turning around to see the wrapping paper and bows on the floor that the mixed feeling of sadness, nostalgia and loneliness hit me. I guess that cliché “you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone” is true. I miss my family. I miss my traditional Christmas and until now I have not understood why people feel lonely on Christmas when they are alone. I know that last part should be blatantly obvious, but I keep thinking of all the times years ago when I wanted so much more to be hanging out with my friends during the holidays rather than spending the whole day at home with the family. It’s selfish, but I guess it’s all part of growing up and taking something precious for granted. At this moment, I would give almost anything to be back home for Christmas. I would much rather be spending Christmas Eve at home watching a movie with my family than working at the bar because I have no family to go home to.
But enough..before I get too sentimental (if it isn’t too late for that already). For all you readers out there who have the joy and privilege of being at home with your family, enjoy every second of it, and take a moment to be grateful for the opportunity to be with the ones who love you most. I’ll be on the opposite side of the world from mine trying my hardest not to get sunburned at my Christmas day bbq. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 🙂