Paid Time Off

Three Words

Three words. Paid Time Off.

What a gloriously beautiful week of vacation I had. Time to sleep, time to read, time to laugh, time to eat. And eat. And eat. Time for gifts and family and brunches and egg nog and stockings and celebrations. I am thankful I work at an organization that allows for paid vacation. I needed a break.

Three words. “First Married Christmas”.

I love Christmas and my first married one went smashingly well. What caught my attention this year was that everyone felt the need to point out that this was the first Christmas of significance between Dylan and I. I felt strangely pressured to make the holiday significant. We chose to spend Christmas Eve just the two of us and I made crab legs. Delicious, splurge the budget, crab legs. IMG_2117

We did not go to church (the first year of my whole life). Instead we drove around to look at Christmas lights, and watched “Elf”. It was enjoyable and I very much enjoyed the calm before the family stampede, but in many respects, the night felt no different than the 6 Christmas Eve nights I had spent with Dylan before. There were just less people around. Taking the pressure off of myself, and giving permission to live the moments as they unfold. Traditions will develop for our little family, but this, too, is a process. I get to choose how to navigate this new territory of Christmas traditions as an “us”.

Three words. A White Christmas.

It snowed! And in fact, it is still snowing and winter has arrived. The idyllic flakes of white magic continued to fall from mid Christmas Day until late in the evening. The frozen crystals painted a backdrop that was intended to truly capture our “First Married Christmas” just like the ‘ol days. You know those old, nostalgic Christmas Card scenes that float around with images of the 1800’s on them? The snow flakes are embossed, textured, glittery. The old church gleams and gentlemen in caps and ladies in outrageous dresses that weighed eight tons look flustered because they are carrying packages for twenty? Did Christmas really look like that for them? I want to update those images and include a more picturesque version of today’s reality.  What would you put on the cover? I’m still trying to decide. Here is a picture of our “First Christmas”. I am not stoned – I just have deep set eyes. Don’t look at the eyes, it is my hair that looks great. And oh, those snow flakes.


Three words. Christmas Number Four. 

Despite efforts to condense Christmas celebrations with a brunch held at our house, we still hustled and bustled our holiday cheer to four different family celebrations. (Did this phrase come about because women in those ridiculous 1800’s dresses had to bustle their apparel before they could move briskly across town? This is all becoming more clear.) With each event or stage in the marathon my heart swelled. How did I get so lucky to live so close to my family, to want to invite not only my parents and brother and his friends to our home, but to include grandmas and aunts and cousins. I am blessed to come up with creative gifts for exchanges and humorous antics to share at the dinner table. I’m spoiled beyond belief and bask in gratitude for the humans that love upon me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The need to summarize thoughts and collectively label my experiences each week has challenged me this year. Do I need to implicitly spell out my intentions, or am I doing a good enough job painting a picture that you can follow along? No really, I want to know what you think. This week, there was so much beauty in the in-between space in holiday happenings. I was giddy and to be honest, a little intimidated at the prospect of creating my own family holiday traditions. I have, after all, spent the last 20 or so years participating in Christmas in the only way I know how. The way my mother likes it. I was sad I didn’t come running up the stairs in pajama pants that matched my mom’s. Stockings were opened at 2 pm, rather than 8, and on the couch in front of the fire rather than my parent’s big four-poster bed. (Sharing too much about my family’s personal boundaries?) Yet, each family continued to accept the small, detail oriented changes, that suggest we are all morphing into a new normal. We accept each other with open arms and seasonal joy, while continuing to navigate what it means to be our own little units. Think holiday mitosis. It’s mesmerizing, and yet the split, at times, can be a little shocking at first.

Three Words. Happy New Year.