I’ve literally tried more than three times to write a really intelligent, witty, smart, perceptive kind of post during the yawning mass of winterbreak spent largely sitting on the couch and thinking about doing stuff. But alas. Pretentious, boring, pointless rambling that I was too lazy to edit n’ finish n’ post.
So I’m gonna do a real sentimental, cornee post on holiday traditions. Brace yourselves. But c’mon–this may be good.
Okay, so every year (except for one when I was really little, like four or something) we’ve gone to my grandparents house in a quiet, cozy but not-creepy-and-fake suburb. For those earlier years, we flew, because attempting to drive with a five year old boy and a nine year old girl for twelve hours…..we could’ve done it, but nah.
Then, when I was ten, we drove for the first time. The LONGDRIVE is a definite part of the experience, at least now. Listening to music and forcing myself to listen to the entire, random library of songs instead of just skipping to the ones I really like so that it feels like more of an accomplishment, and to buy time. Having to pee the minute we leave a rest stop, getting a strawberries and cream frappuccino at Starbucks (and feeling really proud when I say frappuccino, because frappuccino sounds kind of like cappuccino, which is completely grown up), stopping at Denny’s for lunch, (a corny, slightly weird Denny’s Diner with flickery lights and Christmas music), watching movies on my dad’s laptop (this years were Aquamarine, Miracle on Ice, and Dodgeball), discovering the headphones don’t work, making our lists of what we want to do in the week-and-two-days we spend at my grandparents, which are always the same but there’s some comfort to that.
So we drive, and stop at somewhat seedy gas stations for bathroom-pit-stops, and relish the sameness of this drive even though we’ve only been doing it for a few years now. And finally we arrive at my grandparents. I feel really sentimental once we turn into their street, usually around eight, but this year we arrived at seven. Whatever. We pull into the driveway and hear the crackle of tires against gravel and then the car stops and we scoop up a random mess of headphones, empty Starbucks cups we never bothered to throw away, napkins, bags full of half-eaten snacks, brochures on the magic of Ohio that we took at a rest stop because we didn’t want to seem rude. We run groggily up the lawn and then knock on the door, although usually my grandparents are already there to meet us.
Oh, and then we have our traditions once we’ve gotten there. We go to this place called Pizza Paradiso, which has the most amazing pizza I’ve ever tasted. Then there’s the nearby mall, for last-minute Christmas shopping and then the annual post-Christmas trip to return and exchange and get sucked into the compelling, windowless world of consumerism :DD. My grandpa’s a photograph collector, so we head to his gallery and get sandwiches from the nearby Greek place and sit around his table and sip Ginger Ale and stuff ourselves. And we…go to a chili place, and watch lots of movies, and go ice skating at this huge indoor rink, and get cupcakes from a tiny place for dessert, have a Bastilla (which is a dish that’s basically delicately layered chicken and spices and puff pastry goodness) and chocolate roll-up cake on Christmas Eve, anddddddddddd………..
What’s been kind of…well, I don’t want to say hard, but I’m gonna say different is CHANGE.
Like when I was little–well, not even that long ago–up until I was ten, my cousins and I would put on a play every year. And my older cousin used to play flute, and I used to play violin, so we’d do little concerts where my grandma would accompany us on the harpsichord. Maybe we’d sing along, too–I can’t remember. And when I was younger–maybe up until I was eight or nine–we’d go out into the foresty area in my grandparents backyard and play the five step game, where we’d have to get across the mush of trees and vines and sticks without touching the floor more than five times; if we did, we were out. And we named the trees, and we each were assigned one to start on. And when I was even younger–5, 6, 7 maybe–when my cousins arrived, we played a game called Calm Yourself, My Child, invented by us, where one of us was some kind of psycho zombie person that chased the other three around the house hissing Calm yourself my child in a really creepy voice.
Aren’t these traditions….aren’t they so much more interesting? I mean, I love our current traditions, too, but there’s definitely some specialness lost in goin’ over to the mall rather than playing an off-key rendition of Silent Night with everyone clustered around in chairs smiling (fake or real?). When my uncle arrived this year, he asked us, “So…are you guys planning any performances? Any plays, concerts….anything?” And we answered, “Um…no.” I felt a kind of corny but real sadness at that. My older cousin will be going to college the year after next. I’ll be in high school, I thought, realizing I’d always thought of my cousin as towering and beautiful and….thirteen years old. My age. Now she’s sixteen, learning to drive. This is too weird, I thought. Year before last I was going to bed wondering what Santa was gonna bring and this year I’m walking past as the parents set up the presents under the tree with my eyes halfheartedly covered?
Then I thought: IT’S NOT THE SSSSSSSSAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEE. AND IT NEVER WILL BEEE.
Then I thought: Um, is that really so bad?
And, oh god, this is corny, but I had this realization. I mean, traditions change, and people change, but what about the new traditions we have now? What about staying up late and baking scones (last year I posted about baking blueberry muffins), and watching the movie Bridesmaids? What about being independent, and doing stuff on my own, too? And meeting up with Zoe!!! Getting to meet a fellow blogger–and a really, insanely cool person–has been awesome. Not to say I still don’t feel huge, overwhelming amounts of nostaligia for past Christmases, where all the kids woke up at five in the morning and debated whether or not to sort the presents into piles for each person, instead of starting the present-opening at nine, because we’re all older and, um, bigger and it’s gotten uncomfortable to be all in one house, so some people are staying at a hotel.
Don’t think this means I won’t be getting up at five tomorrow morning. It’s kind of….it’s kind of a personal tradition.
Merry xmas, merry traditions, merry newness?
P.S. I’ll upload some pix when I decide to stop being a Christmasy blob of laziness. Ya know the feeling.