This Christmas is going to be a different one for me. I am excited about it, but I'm also a bit apprehensive. This year, we will be spending Christmas in North Carolina at Herschel's brother's house with the rest of Herschel's side of the family. This will be my first Christmas that I have not spent with my immediate family - hence, the apprehension.
Of course I knew this day was coming. It's expected with marriage. Along with the sharing of the house, chores, money, remote, etc. comes the sharing of the holidays. And honestly, in this department I've become a bit spoiled two and half years into our marriage. We have yet to spend a Thanksgiving or Christmas with Herschel's family. (I can see it now - several of you are having intense feelings of sympathy towards Herschel for having to spend all holidays with me and my family, but don't worry, he likes it. Trust me. Ha!)
We didn't really intend for it to end up that way, but for one reason or another it just did. Honestly, I think I was hoping the first holiday we would spend with his family would be Thanksgiving. I think it would be an easier transition for me. Still tough, but better somehow with endless amounts of turkey, dressing and pumpkin to drown out my sorrows.
Regardless, here we are. Christmas 2009 will be my first grown up Christmas. I'm trying to prepare myself as best as possible, but how do you really prepare? See, with my family, like most families, we have traditions. I know exactly how things will be, and I enjoy that. I know that we will have a big breakfast waiting when we get up, we will have to repeatedly wake up my brother so that we can finally open the presents, our stockings will be filled to overflowing and set at each of our chairs and my mom will be badgering everyone to throw their wrapping paper immediately into the garbage bag that she seems to have attached to her hand every Christmas morning. They may seem small, but through all the changes in our family over the years, these things have been constant.
I don't know what traditions the Acosta side of the family has, and chances are they are different than the ones I am used to. This all began to sink in for me last Saturday, as Herschel and I started planning out the details of our road trip to North Carolina. It wasn't long before the who, what, when, where and how of our trip turned into an interrogation for Herschel. I spent most of our lunch firing off questions to Herschel about what Christmas in his family was like, and in typical Herschel fashion, he didn't elaborate much and told me to calm down. I got answers like, "We open presents." Well, thanks. I'll be sure to prepare for that one.
It wasn't too long after that when I decided that I would try not to worry about the traditions - new or old - and enter into this year with an open mind. This Christmas is going to be different in a lot of ways. In addition to a change of location for me, we have spent significantly less than we have in previous years and we aren't giving each other presents, instead we are buying one thing we both want and can use. Maybe it's a sign of maturing or maybe it's just a reaction to all that we've been through this year, but all the "stuff" just doesn't seem to matter as much this year.
I'm trying to get back to the heart of the Christmas season. And honestly, I'm not quite there yet. Ironically, I've been too busy and distracted with all of my preparations. Christmas is about a love greater than you or I will ever be able to comprehend, hope for a struggling world and peace beyond our understanding. In small doses, I have each of those things - love, hope and peace. But I could sure use more. More love for friends and family when I don't understand their choices, more hope when I'm discouraged and don't see an end in sight, and more peace to know that I don't have to have all the answers.
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