It's Beggining to Look a lot like......



With Christmas fast approaching, and our long-awaited trip to Thailand looming, things here in Korea-land have been getting a little bit more jazzy. That’s right, jazzy. You heard it here first. There is a sense of anticipation floating around and with 11 school days left (but really who’s counting?) before our vacation starts certain realizations are beggining to come into light. Christmas eve will mark four months since landing here and that number astounds me for a number of reasons: 1) It feels like we’ve been here forever and 2) It feels like we just got here yesterday. My four month mark will pass without Korean fanfare though as Dave and I will be celebrating Christmas while lying on a beach with white sand, blue water, and a never ending supply of frothy, sweet, rum soaked beverages with big pieces of fruit floating around in them. And while that little scenario is one I have been eagerly looking forward to, it does not diminish the fact that this will be my first Christmas away from home.

Statistics supposedly show us that suicide rates are higher during the time from Thanksgiving until just after New Years. The idea being that if you are someone who is unfortunate enough to have little or no family, and/or socially inept enough to have little or no fiends, the holidays magnify these problems and influence the decision to off yourself rather then face that microwavable turkey dinner /Christmas special rerun / no one to kiss when the ball drops fiasco that has become your life. Well that makes perfect sense. Especially when there are starving children in Africa. I personally think this is bullshit. Not because of the fact that information like this, in actuality, glosses over the truths about suicide and does not address it for the serious problem that it is, the causes and effects that contribute to people who suffer from depression bad enough to make them feel like this is the best solution. No, I think it’s bullshit because for most people, a cocktail of vodka and xanax seems like a good idea when family festivities are at an all-time peak during the holiday season not when their curled up in their favorite armchair with a box of cookies, a bottle of wine, and Bob Cratchit, the ghost of Christmas present and Ebenezer for company.

Christmas memories: sitting on the couch in my parents darkened living room, relaxed, warm and happy, the lights from our Christmas tree glowing. Some of the ornaments on our tree date back to my mothers childhood, from each of our childhoods, and our tree, to me, has always held an untouchable sense of lineage, safe, warm memories enveloping it and turning it into the same exact tree we had the year before, the year before and the one before that too. The Carpenters Christmas album, and Bing Crosby. Burl Ives, Jimmy Stewart and that kersnagally ol’grinch. I grew up in a part of Calgary near Kensington, a trendy little district close to downtown and every year for as long as I lived there would spend many December afternoons perusing the streets and shops, Christmas shopping and sipping on free samples of hot apple cider or enjoying a seasonal, decidedly un-free Starbucks beverage. My parents Christmas Eve party, which has, I recent years, become a Christmas tradition for other families we have invited over the years, is what I will probably miss most of all. The candlelight service at my parent’s church and then racing home to put the final touches on the preparations that began week’s prior. Seeing the house I grew up in fill with the people who watched and helped me become the person I am, smelling the food my mother and I have prepared and served while my slack-assed brothers sit on their kiesters in the kitchen entertaining their friends and sipping on beer. The wine flows freely and the corners of the rooms get filled up with kids up late past their bedtimes but who can sleep tonight?!? And when the last of them leave curling up with my family by our memory soaked tree, sipping tea and relaxing. Eating too much. Drinking too much.(I like to think I keep the spirit of Christmas all year with that one though…) Spoiling your friends and family. Spoiling yourself. Fighting to keep your head above the churning oceans of commercialism that attempt to drown the last dredges of honest good will and charity that this season is supposed to bring. Carol of the Bells. And still thinking, in spite of the fact that I am indeed 27 years old and not, like, 8, that the ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come is one scary son of a bitch.

I’m so lucky to have these memories. Even luckier to have be a part of the family that helped make them. And luckier still, to be able to take these with me while I’m off making new memories this holiday season. This one will be different then anything that has come before it, and won’t be the same in any way, shape or form. But I think I’m ok with that. Really and truly. Especially because the person I’m making these new memories with is so damn cool. And because I’m hoping, praying, that when the time comes, that tree, that church, that place, those people will be there for me again, ready for me to revel in it and make whatever one I’m in, the best Christmas ever.

Comments

Bethany said…
That's the wonderful thing about family, and indeed tradition - it's always there. :) Then you have the other side of the coin - you can't live life without change, right? I've found that my Christmases are different depending on which family I'm spending it with... there's three places I could be any given year and they're all so different... but embracing the way my family changed meant embracing the fact that there was either no tradition any longer, or there would be some new traditions added to those I knew. Change = adventure = growth. I'm excited for you to experience something so totally different from what you're used to, all the while knowing and feeling secure in the fact that the tradition you know is still there, going without you but with you there in heart.

xoxo
Nicholas said…
Bah humbug ............... on behalf of those "unfortunate enough to have little or no family, and/or socially inept enough to have little or no fiends" I welcome the large cocktails and box of cookies .........
KMac said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
KMac said…
Ah, Steph, it's nice to hear someone having good memories of the holiday that involves their family. I, however, find the family thing too stressful and demanding and I needed to distance myself from all that insanity. My best Christmas holiday times have been spent quietly alone, walking through a beautifully lit neighbourhood, baking cookies for the office and watching It's A Wonderful Life on TV - reliving the memories of being a part of that play. But everyone finds their own happiness in their own way. Merry Christmas and have fun on that beach, you lucky so and so.

Kathy M
Nicholas said…
I'm still waiting for the large cocktail .... didn't I order a large cocktail?! ....... and the cookies still have not arrived either ?!?!?!?!?WTF
Anonymous said…
Hey Steph - What a wonderful family you indeed must have. I'm sure they have the same wonderful memories of their daughter/sister whom they are missing and will dearly miss this year (yes all of us). Yet - I know that they are all thrilled for you to make these new memories to carry forever. We will raise a glass in you honor - o.k. perhaps several - and sing your favorite carol in 4 part harmony. And then we'll do it again next year and whenever the good Lord allows. Love to you (both)

judi & dave

p.s. kathy m. needs to come to our christmas party next year - well and maybe nicholas too................

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