We had a quiet Christmas. It is the first Christmas in years that we have not travelled. I used to get a bit bent out of shape about always traveling for the holidays. Annoyed that no one would come to us for holidays. Now the fact that we are home is a bit bittersweet. In one instance I am relishing being in our own home for the holidays, while the next instant that fact is soured because the reason we are not traveling is that my mom is no longer with us. It hasn't been easy.
Little events have brought loads of memories. I normally do Christmas cookies early so that we can enjoy them through the season. Doing cookies this year was a bit tough and I procrastinated them until just a few days before Christmas. Memories of Christmas both as a child, as a teenager and adult flood through of doing cookies with my mom.
When I was a child my mom would cut them and bake them - making sure to never put different shapes on the same cookie sheet when baking so that they would all cook evenly. I thought she was horribly boring that way. Guess how I do them now? Yes, the exact same way.
Memories of "retarded" angels. No, I don't really mean to be anti-PC here - but back in 1980, "retarded" wasn't a horrible thing to say. When I was a kid we would always try and put faces on our angel cookies. My mom would laugh and tell us that was definitely a "retarded" angel.
As a high schooler, my mom would try to cut corners and change up the labor intensive cookie recipe that was my great grandmother's. It wouldn't take so long if we did this other recipe she would tell us. And my sister and I would roll our eyes. Because they never TASTED as good.
And as an adult my mom would wait to do cookies until we arrived in town and then we would go down to my sister's house and decorate them with her kids and occasionally my aunt and cousins would come down too.
Our Christmas Eve tradition was always to eat seafood and open one gift. Those lean years where we didn't have much, we would still have snow crab legs and my sister and I thought we were the luckiest kids alive. I made a friend's boulliabaisse recipe this year and it turned out fabulous and we were lucky enough to have king crab shipped directly from Alaska to put in it.
My kids had their one gift to open on Christmas eve which surprisingly turned out to be pajamas! (Do you know how hard it is to find Christmas - not winter - themed pajamas for boys in size 7??) Skadi cracked us all up when she opened hers, jumped around the room with a huge grin squealing, "It is EXACTLY what I always wanted!"
I may be deluding myself, or maybe it is what I need to believe to make things easier, but I believe that this was the first year that my mom was in our house with us on Christmas. I felt as though she was here watching all these traditions and partaking with us.