Three days to go, and this is the last post before Christmas. Tomorrow I'm flying home to Germany, as is tradition. And as my mom still contents herself with dial-up while my computer doesn't have a modem, I'll be cut off from the world for the week around Christmas. This is good.
Admittedly, it's not immediately good. My departure is less then twelve hours away, and I haven't written a single Christmas email. I cowardly wish I were on Facebook and could just post a Merry Christmas to all my friends on my wall. But I'm not, and I'll have to sit down and crank out the well-wishing prose when I'm done with this post. But when I'm done I'm done, and the computer will stay off after that.
Christmas for me is intensely familial. I don't want to see anyone or talk to anyone or read anything or see anything not related to family. It's the only week of the year to shut down completely and stop the world. Reading this you might say that instead of writing this post, I could have linked to the one I wrote last year, but there's a little twist. Things will feel different this year because it will be the last time they are as they have always been.
With my life on an uncertain, unpredictable and often shifting trajectory through time and space, Christmas in the embrace of my family has been the only constant through the years. I've only missed it twice, when the distance was prohibitive and I had been home not too long before. Both times marked the low points of their respective years. Quite undeniably, something was missing.
Over the course of the last few months, prodded by events outside my control, I have come to the conclusion that life cannot continue like that. The comfort I keep drawing from tradition is hollow. Knowing where to be for Christmas, feeling the love and being able to share, has shut me off from my own life in a way. It has prevented me from making the holiday my own, from creating my own tradition.
As life inexorably progresses, some changes to even the most treasured routines become inevitable. I don't expect to see myself in Germany next Christmas. Next year there will be no family Christmas as I know it but my own, as it will be. It's not because I'm moving on but because I'm growing up, and it's high time for this.
Merry Christmas, all my friends!