One of the most frequent questions I’ve had recently is “What are you doing for Christmas?”… not in a “wanna hang?” kind of way but in the “oh shit, have you guys managed to sort out what you guys are doing now that you’re no longer together?” way. I’m not going to lie, it did take some discussion and thought and compromise but you know me, I’m a planner. I had that ish on lock ages ago. For the last couple of years, being heavily pregnant and then having an infant, we dug our heels in and had one BIG Christmas. Both sides of the family came together and had a big lunch at our place, meaning that no one was ridiculously rushed. It worked well. But it obviously wasn’t going to work this year.
One of the things that’s been really good is that having almost sole custody of CJ this month (for a series of reasons) has meant examining all the things that I would try to do in a holiday season and thinking as to whether they are really important. Some, like taking CJ to the Christmas picnic I used to attend as a child, are total HELL YESes. Some, like having perfectly matching paper under the Christmas tree, are not important in the slightest. And some of them have been easier to do in the short amount of time I’ve had to myself, like seeing the Christmas decorations in the CBD.
I haven’t been a total Christmas grinch though – CJ has definitely had some Christmas fun. While we haven’t been to a Santa parade (the timings didn’t work), he’s been to the Christmas Wonderland Display twice (where he loves the Christmas trains) – once with his Dad and Nanny and once with me. We’ve decorated wrapping paper with crayon drawings for his aunty’s presents. We visited Santa although CJ decided that he wasn’t so much of a fan this year. We read our Santa books and we often start our mornings with a little Christmas carol dance party. I’ve dialled back on my epic housewife bring-a-plates; no strawberry croquembouche or multi-flavoured truffles this year. My one child-free night this month I decided to go out and party with friends so rocked up with bought food (Dunkin’ Donut Munchkins!) to a get-together the following day. It’s going to sound funny coming from a cook like me, but it was kind of liberating to not care about being Pinterest perfect and instead focus on friendship and fun. And I guess that sums up my attitude to the season – do the stuff that brings CJ and I joy and forget about the rest. Don’t worry about perfection, worry about what ten years from now is really going to matter.
So Christmas Day? M-Daddy is coming round for breakfast. While we’re not the type of exes who will just hang out together socially, we certainly don’t hate each other. We figure that Santa is only going to be exciting for CJ for such a short time (I found out he wasn’t real when I was five!) and while our circumstances (location, commitments, relationships) allow, it can be a nice memory he has of us spending time together. We’ll be doing the traditional bacon sandwiches and bubbles and then CJ will be heading off with his dad for Christmas lunch and a nap. I’ll get to spend the day in the kitchen doing some of the more technical cooking; I’m actually excited for this as I tend to avoid the overly complex meals I love to cook when I’m juggling work and a little lad all by myself. Late afternoon, CJ arrives back and will get to have Christmas dinner with my side of the family and then will hopefully toddle off to bed with a full tummy and a full heart. It’s not the simple Christmases we’ve had in the past but it’s not any worse for it.
I’m really pleased with how this year has turned out. I’m a total Christmas fan and I was really worried, post-separation, what it would look like and that it would turn out to be a massive drama. It’s actually been easier than I expected. And as CJ gets more independent I’ll be able to introduce back in more of the time-consuming parts (like making ornate desserts) that I actually find fun. Whatever life brings, whatever changes may come, I hope that the spirit of Christmas that I’m feeling right now is what moves forward with us – that having a holiday season that you enjoy is enough.