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Letting Go of Traditions and enjoying Christmas Anyway

December 28, 2012

My Christmas season started out on a down note.  Our awesome Christmas tree was giving me problems.  The fiber optics had died years ago, no doubt to the difference in power from the US (which is where the tree came from) and the rest of the world.  Despite that, the prestrung lights still worked.  After getting the tree put up, all the lights still worked…until the next time I turned them on again.  Ugh!  So now only 3 panels of the lights work.  Ok, Ok, so I’ll go ahead and wrap lights around it and voila, we have a lit Christmas tree.  It’s still a really beautiful tree.  But the failing lights prompted the conversation about getting rid of it this year. After all, it’s huge and we have no idea about the size of our next house in Brussels, or if we’ll have any storage space, much less space for a giant Christmas tree for much of the year.  Sigh…

I fretted during the whole season that I didn’t get enough gifts for everyone.  Don’t get me wrong.  I got the family what they asked for.  I just didn’t go above and beyond to ridiculous levels like I normally do.  So I worried about that…

Then we were unable to locate our copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  It has been our tradition every year to watch it on Christmas Eve.  That put into yet another funk.  We ended up watching “Scrooged” which was definitely entertaining (and quite frankly probably more enjoyable for the girls, lol). 

Next morning I realized I hadn’t really prepared everything like I meant to.  Yes I had made the pies the day before, but I hadn’t prepared everything for the meal that would make it easy to get the Christmas meal done.  I slogged my way through, got the dressing ready for seasoning – and then – realized I had no sage.  Ahhh!  WTH?  Ruined!  It’s all ruined! 

With the help of Master Herren, we were able to make some version of my mom’s cornbread dressing without the sage (don’t even ask me to recreate what we did, lol). We had Christmas dinner and all was well.  In fact, the family ate more dressing than they ever did in previous years. 

In the end, everyone was very pleased with their gifts.  The girls were as pleasant as ever and even helped a bit with the clean up.  And Christmas dinner was not a total bust. 

Because our lives are continually being turned upside down in this crazy foreign service lifestyle, I have strived to carry on some traditions, especially during the holidays.  I probably wouldn’t even be completely aware of them if my girls had not, as various points along the way, demanded that we carry them on when I felt like not bothering that year. 

This year it felt as if all those traditions were taken away and I felt completely adrift.  It turns out that Christmas was not ruined by not having those traditions in place, and everyone was just happy to be together, to get exactly what they asked for, and have a good meal.  It took me a few days, but I got out of the Christmas funk, and now I am extremely grateful simply because I have the family that I have. 

And now, though I love this tree, I think I’m ready to let it go.  May it bring another family as much joy as it has brought to us over the years. 

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