Christmas before Mike

Before I started dating Mike, Christmas wasn’t a happy time for me. No holidays were.

In my family, holidays were occasions that magnified the underlying unhappiness of our family. Holidays were a reminder that our family was irreparably broken. That we were not as happy or perfect as we pretended to be.

They were days that we were forced to spend together because everyone else was spending the day with their family.  And we couldn’t go outside because it was too cold.  So we were trapped inside with a mother and father that didn’t get along. And that tension permeated everything. Even if there wasn’t an outburst or blatant fighting, I could feel the tension.  I knew something was wrong.

I got sick almost every Christmas. And almost everything Thanksgiving.  I’m sure it was all the stress built up in my body.  I remember being sick for a lot of holidays–fever, vomiting. Ironic for the girl that didn’t miss a day of school from 4th grade through high school graduation.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I got sick when I had to stay home for extended periods of time.

It wasn’t a happy occasion.  We didn’t really have traditions. Activities that are typically fun holiday traditions like decorating the tree were just chores for me because they were painful.

Of course there were good moments: when I got Barbie roller-skates, extended family Christmas parties where the boys got Hess trucks and the girls got China dolls. On Christmas Eve, my siblings and I all slept in the same room and read Christmas stories. We busted through stockings and presents within a half hour and spent the rest of the day playing with new toys and watching a new movie.

But overall I’d say I felt trapped.

I’m not sure how my siblings would describe Christmas at our house.  I wonder if their memories are as painful as mine.  If they have vivid memories. I really don’t remember the holidays.  I really don’t remember a lot from my childhood.

Christmas at Mike’s house was a very different experience. Starting with Thanksgiving, his dad’s favorite holiday, the Christmas season is Mike’s favorite time of the year. They’d all decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies. It was definitely the most wonderful time of the year, a time of family, and joy.

So when Mike and I started dating, he shared his child-like awe and wonder and excitement about Christmas with me.  And over the years, Christmas has slowly become a happy time. A time to enjoy the company of family and friends, to slow down and take it all in. I know that in the years to come it’s only going to get better.

The Little Things: Christmas 2011 edition

Back in DC after a very busy but great holiday weekend with our families in PA.  Here’s a list of the little things that made this weekend great:

  • pulling up and seeing Christmas lights on my Dad’s house after years without them
  • the smell of a real tree
  • seeing It’s a Wonderful Life at the old Newtown Theater on Christmas Eve
  • waking up with my husband on Christmas morning
  • giving a great gift and the smiles that follow when it’s opened
  • sitting in front of the fire
  • Mike and I putting the finishing touches on Christmas dinner with perfect timing for serving
  • coffee in a Christmas mug
  • laughing with Mike’s parents
  • the huge smiles on my siblings’ and Dad’s faces while iceskating on Christmas day

  • seeing a picture of my mom and me from my wedding day hanging above her desk at work
  • holding hands while iceskating
  • seeing Mike back on skates after 3 years
  • good conversations with Mike’s cousins
  • the decision to bring cheesesteaks and hoagies to Dad’s to eat a chill dinner with everyone at home
  • seeing old friends at the annual Christmas and little hot-dog party, especially one I haven’t seen in a while

We need a little Christmas

This is our only Christmas decoration so far:

Well that and a string of pre-lit garland that only covers half of our window sill.

We need a little Christmas in the Platt household.

Mike absolutely loves Christmas and everything about the Christmas season.  He has a strict rule about Christmas music: no Christmas tunes until the day after Thanksgiving. But come Black Friday, it’s all Christmas music all the time. He’ll even make a Christmas CD for our drive back from PA. But this year, we haven’t had much Christmas.  It doesn’t feel like the most wonderful time of the year.

So why doesn’t it feel like Christmas?

Our world kind of turned upside down last week when we found out we have bed bugs.  Much more on that tomorrow but it felt like we just took a break from our real life while we dealt with the bugs.

So after our favorite Saturday morning activities we’re going to spend today taking in the season. Mike’s going to put up the tree this morning. We’re going to go to the mall to take in the hustle and bustle.  We’ll go see the National Christmas Tree.  And then we’ll bake gingerbread men while listening to Christmas music and drinking wine.  We’ll cap off the night with part of a Christmas movie.

I’d love to know:

Does it feel like Christmas-time to you? 

What do you do to get in the Christmas mood?