Holidays are a point of contention for many people. Most of us spend the month of December attending holiday parties and family get-togethers, watching television commercials, and humming along to Christmas carols on the radio. My personal care attendant (PCA) and I were saying just last week that as much as we love this time of year, it’s exhausting. By the time January rolls around, we’re done with celebrations for a little while.
My parents and I have many beloved traditions that typically have something to do with “Star Wars” (except this year, because there’s no movie coming out, which makes me unbearably sad) — but it’s usually just the three of us. We don’t travel, we don’t host parties, we don’t see extended family. We eat our standard holiday spread: turkey or ham, depending on how my mom is feeling, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, and green bean casserole. We open gifts on Christmas morning, we watch a movie in the afternoon, and in the evening, we don’t do much of anything.
It sounds depressing now that I think about it. But it’s just what my family does, mainly because as a kid, I was on lockdown during the winter months. My parents were (rightfully) concerned about me getting sick, and everyone knows the holiday season is rife with germs, especially in Minnesota where we live. Every Thanksgiving, my mom’s side of the family would stay with us for the weekend, and we’d celebrate all the holidays in one fell swoop — Thanksgiving, Christmas, my uncle’s and cousin’s birthdays. And that was it. We stayed in our germ-free health zone, and our extended family waited patiently for the snow to melt and the threat of illness to abate.
We’ve gotten less strict over the years. I don’t get sick as frequently anymore, so sometimes we have visitors in December. This year, we’re driving to Myrtle Beach to see my cousin and her new husband. It’s forecast to be 60 degrees in South Carolina while we’re there, which, frankly, sounds like heaven given that it’s below freezing in the Twin Cities right now. But compared to my PCA, who practically needs a scheduling AI just to fit all her get-togethers in December, our celebrations are pretty tame.
All this is to say that I’ve never hosted a holiday party. My mom goes all out for Thanksgiving with her side of the family, but it’s not the same as an actual holiday party with Christmas lights and snow on the ground and Bing Crosby crooning over the speakers. But this year is different. This year, my friends and I are celebrating the holidays by — you guessed it — playing Dungeons & Dragons.
It won’t be quite as great as it was in May. We’ll be on Skype with my best friend, so she’ll be here virtually, but hearing her laugh over the tinny speakers of my dad’s MacBook doesn’t compare to having her in my actual living room. But we’ve been looking forward to this for months. I’ve been planning this for a month. I must get my hosting genes from my mom because I went all out — sugar cookies and scented pine cones and, yes, Christmas lights. I even bought garlands.
It finally feels like Christmas. I treasure my family’s low-key holiday traditions, but it’s not the same as the last-minute scramble to make things perfect. My favorite people in the world (minus one, but she’s always with me in spirit) are arriving tomorrow. We’re going to celebrate the holidays with wine and pizza and “A Christmas Story,” because it’s the most wonderful time of year.
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