Monday, February 7, 2011
I was hoping to find a little more peace from the Thanksgiving family event where I had invited everyone and not one of them had come. I have these great memories of Christmas from my childhood with aunts and grandparents and uncles and cousins. It is what I would call big Mexican Christmas. We kept it up for a few years after moving to the USA but after a while we started having more what I would call a “White Christmas.” It was smaller, more intimate with just the immediate family there. I love my immediate family but as social as I am I’ve always appreciated the other gigantic approach so I tried inviting them all again.
Christmas Eve and day came and grandparents were the only ones in town. For what its worth I was very proud of our parenting when maternal grandparents showed up with some of their presents and Kiana’s response was “I get presents for Christmas!? But it’s not my birthday, it’s Jesus!” Now regardless of the religious implications, I was glad that our daughter, 4 days away from being 4 years old, had not (at least not yet) developed a view of Christmas as a materialistic time.
We continued our three traditions this year. (1) Christmas Eve we read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ and (2) put up an ornament representing the most important event of the year. This year was one of the more vigorous discussions we had about what the ornament would be. By all accounts, 2010 was by far the best year of our life in many respects. Kiana, her mother and I had all connected better than before as a family and also the individual connections. Kiana's mom had gotten a new job at Easter Seals which she was really enjoying. We’d trained and run a marathon on Valentines day. It was the year Kiana and I had traveled the most (Chicago, New York, Philadelphia/New Jersey, Italy, Cancun, Toronto). Kiana had started at a new school. Also, there was this brain cancer thing that had come up and one of the things we talked about was putting up something representing all the support we’d gotten over the last few weeks. This was heavily considered but eventually decided against because we committed to making sure that this cancer hadn’t earned “that much attention.” So in the end, the ornament was an American Airlines plane ornament. We had flown them for all of our trips and deciding that this best represented those pages (“the world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”) and the friends that we had seen, traveled with and made on those.
(3) Saturday morning we read the Christmas story and opened gifts. Due to some unexpected year end bills, we had gotten less gifts than usual but we had some help from family and a good friend, Susan Poulos (the tattoo lady). She must be Ms. Claus because she nailed down exactly some of the things Kiana had asked for her birthday that we had not yet gotten her. On the parenting note, before Kiana was allowed to play with any of her toys, she had to clean out several toys that were then driven over to a children’s shelter.
Anyway, I was happy about all this but still a little sad about only having seen my parents but then Boxing Day happened. One by one, grandparents, several of my aunts and uncles, cousins all started arriving the day after Christmas. They wanted to give warm embraces, laugh. There were some heavy talk some more about the religion thing and how God would heal me. I accepted their prayers but also told them I wanted to continue worrying about the living and the dying would take care of itself. This helped me make some peace about the family gap since now for the first time many of them had been to my house (without exception, everyone who was there I’d been to their house). I appreciated the connection and realized maybe I needed to keep feeding it and perhaps the fact that this was their first visit to my place was as much if not more my fault than theirs. This was an opportunity to keep those connections open. These thoughts would come later. At that point, I just enjoyed that we had some great tamales, menudo and a variety of Mexican food. We had so much fun I forgot to pick out which outfit best lets me don some gay apparel. It was a Merry Christmas.