Christmas this year has been pleasant. I know the word “pleasant” has implications of mediocrity, but that’s actually not how I mean it at all. “Pleasant” is a good thing. “Pleasant” means that things are strumming along, that nothing is too much out of place, that there is a feeling of contentness overall. I’ve been striving for “pleasant” for a long time now.

  • Christmas 2006 – immediately following Mama’s rediagnosis. Not pleasant.
  • Christmas 2007 – badbadverybad. Most definitely not pleasant.
  • Christmas 2008 – sobbing in a Christmas Eve service. Not pleasant.
  • Christmas 2009 – realized that I have the ability to make it suck a little less for Sue, & that there will be a Christmas Future. Almost pleasant.

For some reason, I always feel the need to read back through Christmases Past. I’m grateful that I’ve been writing for this many Christmases. I’m thankful that I can read back through the last four years & see the progression. I’m in better place now than I was last year, & last year was better than the year before that. It’s a hopeful feeling, this tracking of improvement.

So today I’m going to finish my Christmas shopping, then make Christmas ornaments with Maggie & Sadie. And tomorrow, & Wednesday, & Thursday, I’m going to bake Christmas goodies. And Friday is Christmas Eve, & this year, Maggie is old enough to really believe in Santa. She went & saw Santa this past week, & asked him for a dollhouse. No worries, Santa, I’m on it… the big ball of pink perfection is sitting under my tree at this very moment. And Saturday, we do gifts & then we’re going to the Christmas Cabin yet again. And this year, we’ve booked it for 8 nights. EIGHT. It’s gonna be lovely.

This year's Christmas Cabin

The Christmas Cabin has become our family’s tradition…. a new tradition, a tradition that only came about because of Mama’s death. We get through the hoopla leading up to Christmas, & then on Christmas Day, we drive away, up into the mountains. Each year, it’s been a different cabin. It’s become almost a game to see who can find THE ONE each year. And then for a week, we hide. Bobby & me, Sue, Jennifer & Tom, Maggie & Sadie… we do puzzles & play games & watch movies & football & drink hot chocolate & beer & take walks & rock on the front porch.  What began as a way to simply avoid people & Christmas cheer has become something that we really, actually look forward to. Who knew that that first year of escapism would become one of my favorite new traditions?

So I’m off to take a shower & brave the hordes of last-minute Christmas shoppers. And I will blast Christmas music in my car, & not become annoyed by the checkout lines. I will enjoy today & this week for what it is rather than what it’s not, & think about what I have instead of what I’m missing. I will further annihilate our budget & spend a ridiculous amount of time wrapping whatever I buy in perfectly coordinating paper & wired ribbon so that each box & bag is a stand-alone masterpiece. And once I get everything wrapped, I will take pictures of my beautifully wrapped gifts so that I can remember just how lovely those little glittery-star-shaped gift tags were.

It’s a good thing, this Christmas. And for that, I am thankful.