We did when I was little. And celebrated Hanukah, too. Or Chanukah if you like to spell it that way instead. I wonder if the difference in spelling is a north shore or south shore thing? Those who grew up on Long Island will understand this.
So when I was little we had the eight days of (C)Hanukah and we had Christmas, too. Never with a tree but we had stockings with our names on them and we got presents. It was an American holiday, day. And this lasted, well, forever really.
And then I got married and we celebrated Christmas, too. With a tree and presents and my kids getting up early and running downstairs to find all sorts of great things that inevitably needed batteries which I inevitably forgot to get. Every year.
And then one year, I think the kids were like 12, 9 and 7 or something around that. Or maybe 14,11 and 9. Regardless, they were still kids and I was at ToysRus on Christmas Eve. It was not a pretty sight. And I was flying down those aisles looking for shit that my kids really didn't need at all but, non structured and anti-list-maker that I am, this last minute shopping was kinda part of the overall Christmas tradition that was my life, and I swung around the corner and ran into this guy. He was probably in just about as good a mood as I was. And he looked at me and said you drive like a girl.
I probably said fuck you. I may have said merry christmas and fuck you. I know I was not nice.
And I got home that night and told my kids that this was the last Christmas with presents. That we were done, that I was done. That we would have the day. We'd make the same food we eat on Thanksgiving because we love this food and we love Thanksgiving. But presents: nope, nada, no more, finito. I was not gonna run around anymore buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff and becoming a really mean mom.
And they all said ok. Like no big deal. My kids are so friggin awesome.
So this not buying presents thing, I actually did still buy stuff for Christmas after that, but not in the same way. We still got a tree, once we got one that was so big we had to tie the top of it to the railing on the landing above the living room so it wouldn't topple over. And I bought cool stuff, like a six foot giraffe and hampers for the kids' laundry that were actually animals. A bear and a lion and a cow. But there was no more running around and getting stuff because I was supposed get stuff.
It shifted the intention of Christmas and shifted my intention, too. I am so much nicer now around this time of year!
So fast forward to now. Today. December 25, 2017. A few weeks after the biggest fire in California history. And a time where my three children are in three different places all over the world. I have one on the east coast, one in Australia and one working at the Ritz Carlton, Santa Barbara.
None of them will be with us today. All of them are always with us.
And so I was thinking about what to write about. And then I saw the sunrise. We got to the beach early today. I have been going a lot lately. To the beach in the morning. To walk my perfect Doberman puppy who is almost three and not really a puppy. I started going to the beach on a regular basis after the week I spent at a dear friend's home on the beach when we were evacuated from our home as flames burned up our land and the hills around my town. And living on the beach for that week reminded of the beauty of the beach and my need to be in this place where salt and air and sand intermingle.
And so when we got back to Ojai and moved back into our remarkably untouched and not too smokey home I continued to drive the twenty five minute drive down Highway 33 to the beach in the mornings. Early, but never as early as today.
Driving down to the beach today, my dog and my husband in tow, and seeing the red sky beckon me toward the ocean tide, I knew that today's writing would just be a picture essay (with a really long and quite wordy introduction) capturing this beautiful morning.
So here you go. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. May your day be filled with love and rich with laughter and may you feel the sweet connection to others that this day, and every day, is really about.