I “slept in” – for some values of that expression – and woke to a rainy rather mild winter morning. I made a point to go to the store one last time, yesterday, hoping to enjoy the entire holiday weekend at home without venturing into retail spaces at all. I made this excellent coffee which I continue to sip on, now. There is holiday music playing in the background, with a warm, cozy holiday cafĂ© scene as a backdrop on my monitor. No children live in our home – I’ve still got NORAD’s “Santa Tracker” up, where I can see that famous fat man in red flying around the globe in a sleigh pulled by reindeer (somehow, it still “makes sense” to me that this is even a thing! lol). Giftmas at home.

So merry

…Giftmas. At home. So many moments lead to this one, now, and I feel content, merry, and wrapped in love. My Traveling Partner woke around the time I did. It’s a lovely morning. So far, every detail of the holiday is just delightful, and seems lavish and rich in keeping with childhood expectations of the season, without actually being costly, or built on unaffordable excess. It’s just… pleasant. We took a modest approach to the holidays this year to focus more on longer-term goals. You know that pandemic thing? Yeah, that’s still going on, too – so the thing we’d likely both like most to do more of, which would be socializing in various settings, maybe having a holiday dinner or a party, these are all things that are pretty much not on the menu for us. We’re still masking any time we go out (or answer the door), and practicing fairly strict social distancing – we’re definitely not ready to invite a mob of friends over to party. Not yet. Hell, we haven’t even had a housewarming party yet, or had my partner’s brother over (who lives rather close, a couple towns up the road).

…As content as I am to spend time alone, or with only my partner for company, I am also “feeling the pandemic” as it wears on, month after month. Funny how much life we’ve lived in spite of that, and how much we’ve gotten done. lol I miss friends, though. I take a minute imagining how much harder it may be on my partner, who is much more social. He’s pretty much stuck with “just me” for company day-to-day. I doubt that he finds that boring – but it probably gets super annoying, sometimes. Maybe lonely, too.

Holidays aren’t always so easy as this one. I feel fortunate, and grateful. I think about other Giftmases, some long past, some even quite horrible, others so magical as to become defining moments in how I celebrate the season, even to this day.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really “get” how much actual work my parents both put into making Christmases magical for us. I mean it was pretty hardcore stuff that I only learned later; late nights into the wee hours assembling various “some assembly required” items – like my first bicycle, one year. Mornings no doubt came far too early for them, with eager kids waking nearer to 5 a.m. than to sunrise. When we were little, even the tree itself was part of the magic; it sat in a bucket of water for a handful of days, on the porch, and I truly believed then that it was part of Santa’s work to put up the tree, and decorate it – because for a couple years (at least) that’s how it all went down; no tree when we went to bed, and a world transformed on Christmas morning. Wow. The wonder still saturates my memories. That is some difficult shit to live up to! LOL It’s no wonder my Mom’s first thought on Christmas morning was coffee.

One year, Santa deviated from his usual routine. I must have been around… 9? (Sisters at 6 and at 3 years then.) I woke early on Christmas morning – super early – and there was… something heavy on my legs. I quietly turned on my light and discovered my Christmas stocking was there, at the foot of my bed! OMG OMG! Santa had come!! I went to my parent’s bedroom and tried to wake my Dad and tell him… he woke only enough, and only long enough, to tell me to “go back to bed for a little while” and that I could open my stocking quietly, and enjoy that. “Santa must have known your Mom and I want to sleep in a bit.” (“Sleep in” my ass; they’d probably just barely dropped off to sleep at that point! LOL) So, I did go back to my bed, and crawled back into the warm blankets. I started joyfully exploring the sweets and toys in my stocking as quietly as I could; it was stuffed almost to bursting. My sister woke minutes later, and came into my room (seeing the light under the door, probably) and excitedly told me about their stockings, on their beds, too. I passed on the encouragement to enjoy those, in bed. I think we were all still happily playing, nibbling chocolates, and enjoying our quiet holiday when my parents woke later (still properly early, but closer to something like 7 a.m.). It was splendid! It happened that way every year after. For me, it made stockings singularly important to the holiday in a whole new way.

Thanks for the magic, Mom & Dad. I haven’t forgotten.

Santa’s flying over Pakistan, apparently. This cup of coffee is almost gone. The rain continues to fall. Merry Giftmas. Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays, however you choose to celebrate.