Maybe your entire extended family is super tight-knit. Maybe you guys get together once a year and you all get along swimmingly. Maybe nobody in your family has ever spoken as long as you’ve been alive. Maybe you’re like me and one side of your family used to do all of these big gatherings and then all of a sudden, your family lost its matriarch or its patriarch and your traditions became non-existent.
If that’s you, maybe you know how hard it can be to navigate through that. I know that after my paternal grandmother passed away in 2011, that side of my family grew distant. Many people had grandchildren of their own and wanted new traditions with them. More than that, the illusion that everyone else was stoked to get together was gone. The majority people from this side of my family I have not seen in years. We see each other at weddings and funerals now. How sad is that? The dissolving of the tradition of everyone coming together hurt me greatly. No, it wasn’t about the presents for me. I had this picture perfect image of a great big happy family in my mind and well, that just wasn’t real life.
Also, just this past year, my only other Christmas tradition fell apart just the same. This time, it had nothing to do with death. My aunt and uncle announced that they would no longer be having everyone on my mother’s side over on Christmas day. Honestly, I was furious. Suddenly, Christmas became just another day to me. I’ll stop myself right here to address that I believe Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I believe that makes the day special. However, not celebrating with people we love seemed just downright stupid.
Last Christmas Eve was spent pulling off a grand total of 4 church services. Two were in the morning and two were in the evening. I woke up at 4am and was awake until about midnight. My then-boyfriend Jonathan and I ended up racing against time to join our coworker and his family at a Thai restaurant in the city that would close just twenty minutes after we arrived. I ate our coworker’s wife’s leftovers for dinner that night. It was actually kind of hilarious and sad.
The next morning, December 25, 2017, I was dead tired. I mean it. I couldn’t be bothered to shower so I spent the day in my Old Navy pajamas, third day hair that was half curled, and not a drop of makeup on my face. I sleepily opened presents with my family, then headed over to see my cousins. I was going to see family whether they liked it or not. Shortly after returning, Jonathan came over and opened presents with me. I honestly don’t remember much else about the day.
This year will be a bit different. My parents are hosting an open house to our relatives and inviting them to come by and celebrate together. My fiance will no doubt be in attendance. I will be coming off of a day with just two church services. This is also my last Christmas as a Hopkins. That’s the surreal part for me. Next Christmas, I will be waking up away from my parents for the first time. So I guess I’ll be a bit more observant this year.