The Christmas Curve Part Deux

Three years ago, in 2014, I blogged about how our Christmases have changed over the years. The Christmas Curve was about how our tiny newlywed tree nearly three decades ago grew into a Beast over the years. As did the whole Christmas production line, (wo)manned chiefly by yours truly. From cards to homemade teacher gifts to hosting big holiday dinners, I did it all. I was a regular freaking Martha Stewart.

Since then, the curve has bent toward simplification. And yes it’s been me doing the bending. With a few setbacks along the way. Travel, for example, while it may be the only viable alternative in some situations, does not simplify Christmas. Nope, it sure does not.

To catch up on the curve: Christmas 2015 was honestly kind of a bummer. Vienna briefly shuts down for Christmas, but Warsaw is locked down for three straight days. And it’s cold. And dark. And smoggy. I am sure if you are Polish and gathering with your extended family, it’s just fine. But most of the expatriates I know find it a bit trying.

So, the next year, we threw a whole bunch of money at a vacation in Prague. That didn’t work out in part because I got sick as a dog, probably as a result of traveling for three straight weeks beforehand. But I think it was also a sign: I had simply hit the wall with the weird Christmases. (And the weird life, but that’s a longer story.)

This year, our tree has shrunk back down almost to newlywed size. And I love it!

A tiny tree for our tiny DC house. OUR house!

In the process of decorating the house for the holidays, I donated about a third of our ornaments and lights. That brought six big plastic containers of Christmas junk down to four—and hopefully brought light and joy to someone else’s home.

I also enjoyed decorating the fireplace that I gussied up with a DIY tile surround and mantel. It’s the perfect place for my collection of critters.

You might be retired Foreign Service if you have Santas, gnomes, cholitos and Klezmer musicians on your mantel for the holidays.

Shopping consisted of a couple of hours of online clicking and popping stuff (that arrived in just a day or two! a miracle!) into reusable cloth bags and stockings. Then I hopped on a plane to Nashville to see my family for a few days. A cheap two-hour flight, no passport required. I love that I can do this now.

I fly home tomorrow, Christmas Day, along with all the drunks, elves and reindeer. Upon arrival, my only job is to make a pie for a second Christmas dinner with my visiting daughter and in-laws on Boxing Day. The ex-FSO is making spinach lasagna because it’s red and green, right? Boom, Christmas dinner.

All that said, I am not quite there yet. I still have stress flashbacks around the beginning of December every year. Cultural conditioning is hard to shake, not to mention all those years of having to get my shopping and wrapping done by Thanksgiving if I wanted it to get to family by the big day. And I still have a little baggage from lonely overseas Christmases past, though that is fading over time.

However, I do believe the Christmas curve is finally beginning to flatten out.

Peace on earth y’all.

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