Friday, December 26, 2008

Memories #3 - Starting Anew

As I have been cataloging, this has been an atypical holiday celebration for my brother and me. The parents, sister, brother-in-law, and new nephew are out of town, and that literally meant no Christmas presents under the tree on December 25th (they're on their way later so don't feel too bad for us). Instead, Steve and I slept in, watched the Muppets Christmas special I TiVo'ed, and avoided pretty much all of the stress that typically surrounds the holidays. A stress-less holiday? It's possible - all it requires, we found out, is to pretty much ignore that the holiday is going on within your own household. Schedule all holiday meals at other people's houses, don't buy presents for your siblings, and eat a cup of yogurt for breakfast. Very classy.

It's weird how authority figures, even at my age of 26, prevent my life from falling into great chaos. On Tuesday, the furnace in our house temporarily stopped functioning and it took several pairs of layered pants, socks, coats, and blankets for me to realize something was amiss. Steve and I aren't particularly messy people, but we're increasingly finding crap accumulating around the house. All of a sudden the sweater I was wearing yesterday is in the middle of the living room floor and I have no idea how it could have gotten there. Didn't I just do the dishes? How is there a double load still waiting for me in the sink? Why do my socks no longer magically replenish in my sock drawer? I thought that's what the Underpants Gnomes were for. How did I survive college with minimal parental oversight and support? As far as I can recall, when my clothes all disappeared and I found myself starving, I was able replenish my clothing and food supplies and successfully remove the lid off of the pineapple can for my delicious dinner of canned pineapple. I really have lived the life, haven't I?

We have always had lovely family Christmas traditions in our family, Steve and I more or less maintained most of these traditions this year, and I'm sure that we'll be back to normal operating procedure over the next couple years - possibly and hopefully with the new toddler in tow. However, this is the first of many years where I will start to view Christmas as a genuine adult. It is my last Christmas as a single person (with the standard caveat that Maureen does not drop me in the next 8 months, I do talk about underpants with abundant frequency), my parents and sister's family were not here to celebrate, I had to produce some food for the family meals, and I am no longer the youngest generation in my immediate family. At Christmas Eve dinner yesterday, I took my father's small role and generated the prayer for the meal (Steve declared me as barely adequate). After the meal, instead of laying on the living room floor with my brother and sister, I had to help clean up and distribute the remaining food. Taken individually, none of these things is much of a big deal, but when I view them as a whole, it is an interesting shift in the direction of my existence.

I have uncountable (greater than 3) Christmas memories with my family from the last 26 years of my life, and in each of those memories, I remain more than happy to be the impetuous, witty, and handsome youth. Now, while I doubt I will make any sort of drastic leaps in maturity, it seems as though Christmas will continue to evolve and change as those I care about continue to grow and change - more so and faster than ever before. It seems we've reached critical mass with respect to moving away from the status quo, and life will continue to move in new and interesting directions. A small part of this is sad and hard to deal with - growing up and starting to develop an extension of your immediate family is a little bit scary and intimidating. Things have worked so well in the past, it's a shame that anything has to change.

However, that is the inevitability of life, and it is important and necessary that I learn how to adapt and develop as a responsible adult. Leaving behind at least a part of the past, or my role in the past, is a challenge, but doing so opens up so many doors. At this juncture, I probably don't even have a clue as to where most of these doors lead. In one sense, there appears to be a clear delineation indicating the beginning of the second phase of my life. I hope that this somewhat arbitrary second phase includes as much excitement and joy as the first phase (and that the second phase includes far more blog readers than the first. I just had to throw that in there). Added to this, I hope I have the choice to live at least part of this second phase in Michigan.


Dan A. said...

Christmas, for better or worse, means a lot to me; and during this time I always reflect on how my life has or as not changed since the last Christmas. Seems like a reasonable time to do something like this.

I can only hope I don't really have to see it as an adult until I'm at least 26 too.

Not sure if that had anything to do w/ your post, but oh well.

Ken said...

Don't worry, Dan. It's not so bad. Once you are willing to acknowledge that things don't have to be the same as the past, it makes it much easier to move forward. I feel that many times, much of the stress revolving around the holiday season is that people are trying to recapture a specific memory or feeling or expectation, and this is not a realistic way to handle the holidays because things are bound to change.