I'm a creature of habit. I like my traditions and the thought of altering those rituals sends chills down my body. For 23 years I had spent Christmas the same exact way, in the same exact house, with the same exact people.
Twenty-three years of going to the Holy Land reenactment and driving through the Elks Home to look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. Watching the sky on the way home to see if we could catch a glimpse of Santa's sleigh. Trying very hard to go to sleep but instead staring for hours at my popcorn textured ceiling in new pajamas that momma would buy for me each year. Waking up at 5 am. Running into my parents room and piling on their bed only to have them tell me to get out and not to wake them up for another two hours.
Waking my brother up to open our door stockings and play video games while we wait. Again waking my parents up, only an hour later, and having them agree to get up if I would just get off of them. Dad makes coffee. Mom washes her face and takes forever to make her bed. My brother and I stand at the end of the hall with great anticipation, craning our necks to see around the wall, and fidgeting our hands and feet because we are just so excited.
Dad comes back down the hall and tells us that Santa did not come so we should just go back to bed. Brother and I both yell Yes he did! Yes he did! Then Dad says Alright c'mon then while videotaping us running down the hall. Lots of ooo's and ahhhh's. Christmas music plays. It's still dark out and the tree looks more beautiful than the days before. Paper flys. Mom walks around us in her bathrobe with a trash bag collecting wads of paper, many times before they even have a chance to hit the floor. Dad's yells at us to read the labels so we aren't opening gifts that aren't ours. Gifts to our parents. Stockings are last.
Dad telling us to hurry up and get ready so we can eat breakfast up at Paw Paw and Granny's house. We are late, ALWAYS. My all time favorite Christmas food - Saltfish. More gift exchanging. Next onto Grandma and Granddaddy's house for lunch and more gift exchanging. Back to Paw Paw and Granny's for dinner. Watching A Christmas Story over and over and over on TNT. Back home where I would cry (more like sob) because Christmas was officially over. Mom would bring out one last gift for me to open.
It's usually a pair of socks.
And yes, for 23 years this would happen - every single bit of it.
So fast forward to this time last year and imagine how I felt when I was not sending my now husband off on a plane to spend Christmas elsewhere and I was not packing an overnight bag so that I could sleep in my childhood bedroom in order to wake up to the same routine we had practiced every year since I was 6 months old. I remember calling my mom begging her to let Matt and I sleep over so that Christmas wouldn't have to change.
But she firmly told me no... that I had my own family now, and being that I was pregnant, I would have my own child to start Christmas traditions with the next year. So reluctantly, on Christmas morning I woke up bright and early and piled on top of Matt trying to get him to wake up. We had our own Christmas, just us. It was quiet. We did go to my parents to open presents. We still went to Paw Paws for lunch and to Grandma and Granddaddy's for dinner. And I survived. It wasn't that bad.
And it's now "next year" and it's Evelyn's first Christmas and that means round two of tradition making.
We took her to see Santa at a local mall. My original plan was to find a realistic looking Santa with a real beard and a cheery disposition. But the line for that Santa was waaaay too long for a child who was exhausted and unimpressed with the current event. So we settled for the crabby Santa with a fake beard... And a shorter line.
Momma stood in line with us while dad waited near Santa with the video camera. Dad said while the kids screaming for fear of their lives with this bearded stranger was pretty entertaining - he said the parents were even more of a show. Jumping up and down, ringing bells, dashing back and forth with pacifiers and teddy bears. All for a smile. For one little crack that would make it appear, at least in the photo, that they were happy to be there.
And what do you think Matt and I did as Evelyn lay in Mr. Kringle's arms? We jumped up and down, sang songs from the Wiggles, baby talked, and rang bells. Maybe a little smile?
Nope, not-a-one. As I said, unimpressed.
Or maybe it was that she was under the impression he was some sort of impostor. She tried to out him...
Don't worry. He was faster.
And I'm so excited that it will be just Matt, Evelyn, and I on Christmas morning. I want her to have some real solid traditions. Something she can rely on every year. Opening presents and stockings. Eating breakfast together. Making all kinds of warm and fuzzy Christmas memories. Watching her play with new toys and slobber over a candy cane in new pajamas. Then it's off to mom and dads and then the grandparents. Lucky me, it just adds one more stop to my Christmas train. Choooo chooooo!!!
I'm pretty sure, someones still gonna cry. It just may not be me.
Here's to me... passing the torch.