I don’t know when it happened, but the joy of Christmas is a lot more about being Santa than getting surprises from Santa for me these days. My little brother and sister are pretty much Grinches, so they don’t care about decorating the house or making any preparations and do their little bit of shopping at the last minute. Christmastime is my favorite time of the year, though, so now that I’m away living in DC, my mom waits to let me decorate the tree and stuff, even if it means waiting til Christmas Eve.
Christmas trees are probably pretty close to the top of my favorite things in all of life. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of running around at the Christmas tree farm with my whole family, inspecting damn near every tree to find the perfect one. It had to be tall enough to touch the ceiling in our living room, and broad enough to have room for all the gifts below, and without any bare sections. We would cut it down, tie it to the top of the van, drive home verrrrrrrry carefully, and then struggle to get the thing in the house upright in its stand. It was invariably too tall, bending over at the top, so we’d have to cut it again to have room to put our angel on top. Then around and around we’d go with twinkling white lights and our boxes and boxes of ornaments, from the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments we each have to the Christmas crafts we’d made in school or at home to the delicate glass ornaments we’ve collected over the years.
A couple of years ago, my brother and sister decided they were done going to the Christmas tree farm, and my mom bought a fake tree. It doesn’t feel the same by any means, but that didn’t stop me from spending a good few hours on Tuesday night fluffing each of the fake bunches of branches out so that the tree looked big and full, and putting all the ornaments up by myself while my mom and sister watched. I wanted my mom to help, but she was tired.
Me: Mommy, aren’t you going to help me?
Mom: I will in a minute. I like watching you decorate the Christmas tree. You always look so happy.
Me: It’s my favorite thing about Christmas! [continues on about the Christmas tree farm…]
Mom: I wonder, who will take all these things and keep the tradition going?
Me: I want the ornaments! They can go on my tree.
Mom: But then our traditions would end with you. You won’t have kids to pass them on to…
Me: [Brother] and [Sister] and their kids can come do Christmas at my house.
Sister: My kids aren’t coming to your house! They’re banned.
…I think this is the first thing that has ever made me legitimately sad about the fact that I don’t want to be a mother. There will always be people to gift to, because my family never stops giving Christmas gifts no matter how old you get, so I was never sad about the idea that I won’t be able to see the look of joy on anyone’s face on Christmas morning. That’s not a thing that will happen. But the idea that I’ll forever be decorating just for myself (or myself and [insert future-boo here]), or saving all my “real” decorating for the few days I’m “home” saddens me. I want to go to the Christmas tree farm with little ones and cut out sugar cookies in Christmas shapes. I want to have ornaments some “we” made. But maybe none of those are things that will happen either, unless birthing children wrings the Grinch-ness out of my siblings’ systems and I can help.
My mother loved all her gifts, though. She was so surprised as I kept pulling out more and more things for her. She’s so easy to shop for. And my brother and sister each got me gifts this year too, which is unusual for them. Dinner at my grandma’s house was phenomenal, as always. It was a good holiday overall, though one things cast a shadow over it that I’m sort of still sitting under: my father did not call me yesterday. I am finally letting myself be hurt by the fact that we’re not speaking. So excuse me while I sit around being in my feels.