Week 40: The meaning of Christmas

It’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas.

Unless you’re one of the disgustingly organized shoppers with a year-long running list completed before Halloween trick-or-treaters bang down neighborhood doors.

Unlike me.

Or, like me, one of countless holiday travelers who have to secure vacation time and/or flight plans even before sweaters come out of storage.

Now that I live in Switzerland, I’d hoped to keep a December trip back to the United States part of my young family’s Christmas tradition.

Sophie with Aunt Kelly and dogs-are-people-too cousin Bronson, Christmas Eve 2011

It’s a special piece of my childhood, that preholiday buzz — decorating after Thanksgiving, watching Christmas movies, scouring department store catalogs hunting for not-so-suble hints to give Santa.

As an adult living who knows where, the time of Rudolph was a much needed family reunion.

This year, however, Christmas will arrive about two months before baby No. 2. Call me crazy, but a 12-hour international travel bonanza, even with my partner owning toddler duties, sounds like a fool-proof way to sap holiday cheer.

I was a bit sad at first. Thinking of how disappointed my family will be not to see Sophie running around the Christmas tree. Missing the big family gathering at my mom’s house and holiday breakfast with my dad.

I was also a little annoyed when my adoring partner said of my no-holiday bummer, that it doesn’t matter what date is on the calendar as long as family gets together.

Smarty pants.

I know this is true. Somewhere in that logical part of me. A part that’s been doing a lot of  napping.

But change has a way of compounding the permanent film of guilt just below the surface. The part of me that will always feel bad about having my child, soon to be “children,” across an ocean from their extended family.

It’s time to wake from the nap, though. Let go of the fantasy of always having the same Christmas on the same date designated by the calendar.

The meaning of Christmas spans a spectrum from parties and presents to reverence and prayer.

I’m not a religious person, so for me it’s more the fun of buying gifts, eating good food and spending time with family. So yeah. The party.

And we can party any day of the year. I suspect, maybe even for the religious folks, the birth of Jesus can be celebrated any day of the year. Especially since no one seems to know to date, let alone month, of that special day.

So this fall, we will be celebrating, as a friend reminded me, Hallowthanksgivistmas with my side of the family. We’ll make our own special time and be thankful we get to see each other.

On calendar Christmas, we’ll celebrate at home, just the three (and a half) of us. Maybe we’ll set up some Skype time. But we won’t have to sing Silent Night in a blur of jet lag! 😉 Although I’m sure I’ll be humming another tune, thanks to Bing Crosby, I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

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About Tara McLaughlin

I'm a stay-at-home mom to two girls in my boyfriend's hometown of Bern, Switzerland. Life as a new mom in a foreign country has been, in so many ways, rewarding and challenging. I will document that journey here, on Another 52 Weeks.
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