It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the zillionth time. Not that you can see it too often. Maybe I’ll make it a tradition and watch it every Christmas Eve.
For most of my life, Christmas has been the high point of the year. In the back of my mind, I wait all year for this day. On December 26, the year starts all over again. I look forward to this holiday more than any other day of the year, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the potential it holds, for joy and warmth and happiness and – well, all things good and wonderful. Recently, I haven’t looked forward to it with as much enthusiasm, although I’m always hopeful. I guess no one day can live up to that kind of pressure. Or maybe I’m just getting older and more jaded.
I’m spending the holiday with my aunt – my mother’s twin – and a couple of cousins. As much as I don’t like to venture too far from home any more, Christmas is a time for family, so here I am. And am happy to be here.
My dear friend Kent has always told me I’m never satisfied with where I am – I’m always looking down the road, wishing I were somewhere else. I guess it applies here – I’m thrilled to be with my family, but wishing I were home, too, spending the holiday with my friends. (Then again, I’m also wishing I was in Mexico with Dean and Linda, wandering the streets of Melaque like we do every year.)(And in NH with my sis and her family, freezing my behind off.)
I’ve kept busy. Dinner with my cousin and her honey. A great evening with my high school friend Pat and his family. A relaxing day with other cousins, complete with an amazing Southern dinner of turnips, turnip greens, baby lima beans (all from their garden), mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, biscuits and smoked ham. Dessert was wet coconut cake – a recipe of my grandmother’s that I’ve never had, and she’s been gone over 20 years. Driving around town, oohing and aahing at Christmas lights. Tomorrow, more family. Kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. And my favorite dinner on the planet, my aunt’s spaghetti sauce. Then I’ll be up early Wednesday and head back to my “real” life, where there are lights to see and cocktails to drink and presents to open – and to give.
Maybe by next year, my life will be focused in one spot, and I won’t feel torn between all these different people and places. Or I’ll have that one special person to spend it with, and won’t feel the absence of my family quite so keenly. But with family and friends spread all over the country – heck, the world – it’s hard to imagine how I’ll do that. Being the cockeyed optimist that I am, though, hopefully I’ll find a way.
I hope you’re spending the holiday with your family – however you define it. (I’ve always believed that friends are the family we choose.) I hope Santa fills your stockings with everything you could ever wish for, and a wee bit more. I hope you can find that childlike enthusiasm that makes this the best time of year.
And now, I’m off to finish the egg nog and watch the end of “Miracle on 34th Street.” And wait for Santa.
The merriest of Christmases to you and yours! With lots and lots of love – Beth