Today I'm linking up to Angie at The Jammie Girl to share my Christmas memories.
My first Christmas, and one of the few from
my earliest years that was recorded for posterity.
For me, Christmas has always passed in a blur.
My memories of Christmas as a child revolve much more around the anticipation than around the gift opening.
Anticipation always, always trumps reality.
Christmas in my house wasn't a huge deal. We had a tree. We had gifts. We ate well. There was candy and those mixed nuts that you have to crack yourself and plenty of peppermints and candy oranges, and it was all good and fine, but there weren't big productions about anything. It just happened.
I'm not sure if my favorite part is that my shirt is on backward or that my underwear shows. This is THE only "Christmas morning opening gifts" photo that exists from my childhood. Apparently we didn't have a camera.
There's not one particular Christmas that stands out from any of the others. We had plenty - PLENTY - although looking back on that even now I have absolutely no concept of what my parents had to sacrifice to make that happen. I guess that's the way it should be, but it hurts my heart just a little and tinges my memories with a bittersweet taste that I just can't seem to shake.
Me, my sister and my nephew (who looks so much like Zachary here it's scary!) on a Christmas morning in the days of big hair and bad sweaters.
By the time I was in high school and knew the truth about the magic and all that, my Mama stopped even putting up a tree. We still did presents and a big meal, but the days and weeks leading up to Christmas seemed just like the rest of the year. I always gave her a hard time about not putting a tree up, but secretly I agreed that it seemed like a lot of mess and fuss for JUST ONE DAY of celebration.
I have no idea what I just unwrapped but it seems to have amused me.
The year I turned 20, I worked my first retail Christmas.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure, let me explain a little bit about what that's like.
Stock that will see you through the mad rush of Christmas usually starts arriving around August or September. Every retail back room I have ever been in is roughly the size of, oh, say a bedroom, which means that the stock has to go somewhere and in the case of a bookstore like the one I worked at, the only place for it to go is on the sales floor. Trust me when I tell you that putting out Christmas themed titles and holiday themed displays in October is not "rushing the season," it's just that simply there is no where else for this stuff to go.
My in-laws usually gift us with liquor of some sort. It's my favorite gift ever.
There is a huge amount of physical and mental prep work that goes into a retail holiday season. Hiring and training temps, dealing with the massive shipments every day, trying to keep staff morale high... it takes a toll. What that meant for me was that I was exhausted every year by Thanksgiving time, and unlike most jobs that encourage people to take time off from work around the holidays, retail managers work more than normal. A typical scenario would be that I had six days total off from work between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I worked until 7pm Christmas Eve and was back ant work by 4 or 5 am on the day after Christmas.
That left roughly 34 hours for me to celebrate with my family, R's family, and later, after I had a family of my own, with my own kids.
I look so tired here. It's almost painful to look at.
It was all a blur. No one year stands out to me at all. I remember hoards of people, sitting in traffic, shopping and wrapping late into the night, driving to visit family, driving more to get home, and being bone weary. I never decorated. I didn't bake cookies or sing carols or anything like that. I never even had a tree.
I remember praying and hoping for the second week on January to come, so I could have a couple days off in a row.
Then I had kids.
OMG he was so LITTLE!!! The cuteness kills me.
And even though I was still working and still exhausted (even more than normal - see: kids) I tried. I put up a tree, I took the boys to see Santa, we baked cookies and gave to others and made a ridiculous amount of holiday crafts and I tried to make it festive and fun.
I've never felt like I have gotten Christmas right, though.
It's all too much or all not enough, and it always leaves me feeling... inadequate, somehow.
Maybe it's because it wasn't a huge deal in my house when I was a kid. Maybe I got so numb to it during all my years in retail. Maybe I'm just not a festive holiday kind of gal.
My memories of Christmas are all a blur.
There have been good times and bad, and a whole lot in between.
There have been gifts given, meals shared, and and memories, for better or worse, have been made.
And since all those memories add up to make a life - MY life - as imperfect as it is, I'll take it.