There’s something incredibly bittersweet about spending your first Christmas away from home. Some things are the same, mostly the things I’ve brought with me. Nanaimo bars aren’t hard to make, and the smell of peppermint bark and sugar cookies makes any place Christmas-y. I still get the same excited goosebumps while doing a terrible job of wrapping gifts for the people I like. Hunting for presents and making handmade treasures is just as lovely this year as it has been in years past. But it’s also lonely.
For the first year, I’m celebrating Christmas with Will’s family, thousands of miles away from my own. Baking up a storm with Katie is good fun, as is planning prank gifts with Noah or sipping Bailey’s with Keri. But I miss my big awkward brothers moosing around the house. I miss my mom yelling from her watch over the Christmas batch of caramels at them to, “Take it outside and burn it off there!” I miss the cold Canadian snows and the cozy wooden fireplace. I miss the good-natured joking and teasing of boys so big, they make me feel like the YOUNGER sister, not the older one. I miss it all.
There’s a clash of family cultures I’ve noticed that can be weird. Nothing too big, but maybe some of you will know what I mean? Have you ever spent a first Christmas with a different family? A weird mix of traditions begins to form. They make old-fashioned German cookies I’ve never heard of and hide a pickle ornament to find in the morning. I make Canadian mint bars and Dad reads the Christmas Carol. They get up and GO in the morning, everyone opening their presents fairly early and all at once (at like, 6am. What). My family gets up pretty slow, bakes cinnamon rolls from scratch, and then settles into opening the presents one at a time, one by one – which usually takes hours. So this year, there will be cinnamon rolls and German cookies. Pickle races and slow opening. Heart-attack-casserole (I’m not sure yet what this is) and tuning in from across continents to hear my dad read to me.
Which, by the way, I love. I love that he still reads to me. I may be in my early 20s now and solidly on my own, but he still juggles time zones and finds the perfect time to gather us all, across an ocean and on two different continents, to read. He’s done this ever since I was old enough to sit still and listen. I may not be tiny and pink anymore, but I’ll hang on to this tradition as long as he’ll keep it up.
All in all, I feel loved. Between my Dad skyping in to read to me for almost two hours and the Wellman family doing their best to include my little traditions, it seems like my family on both sides are going out of their way to make this funny transition easier. It’s not like I’m missing out on Christmas with my family. It’s like I’ve inherited an entirely new family to celebrate with on top of it all. Sure, it’s different than being home. But not different in a bad way. Tomorrow morning we’ll wake up to the smell of cinnamon buns already in the oven, as I have for as long as I can remember. We’ll put on our Christmas socks and gather around the tree, plates of goodies at the ready. And together we’ll make new traditions and memories. New family.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my friends, family, and readers around the world! Wishing you a lovely end to 2017 and a beautiful morning, wherever you are.
P.s. I have a BIG reveal tomorrow… I’m crazy excited about this and have been struggling to keep the secret. One more day!