It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…new style.

Westlake Square

Since Thanksgiving I’ve enjoyed watching lights and decorations go up around the city. Since things have calmed down after finals week I’ve wanted to write a holiday post. I sat down with the intention of writing a happy Christmas post but honestly – I’m having a hard time doing it. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but I don’t want to force feelings I don’t have, either.

Things were supposed to be a lot different after moving to Seattle. I expected the first year to be a little rough and unsettled. I expected that the first year celebrating the holidays away from home would be strange. I was right on both counts, but I’d also expected that by this time, our second Christmas in the Pacific Northwest, I’d be settled into my new job, making good money, debts paid off. I’d expected we would have moved up from a small apartment into another house, with room to spread out, and would have been able to return to Nevada to get the rest of our belongings out of storage. I’d expected that the Tominator would be feeling great, that we’d have established some new holiday traditions for ourselves, that Dream Girl would have found her niche.

Sparkly morning sidewalk.

The first year was not just rough; it was hell. The job I moved up here to take was nothing short of horror and my life has swerved into a direction I’d never seen coming. I’m still in a small apartment. Most of our possessions are still stored in Nevada, including all of the Christmas things I’ve amassed over the years – the tree ornaments with accompanying memories, the special advent calendar, the handmade stockings. We have not, in fact, been able to spend Christmas Eve in a cabin on Mt. Rainier, warming up with hot cocoa after a rousing snowball fight. I haven’t seen my mom and sibs in almost two years and it’s been almost a year since I’ve hugged Monster. I never knew how awful homesickness can be. Girl Scout camp did not prepare me for this.

It is so easy, right now, to miss my old life. My House, with all of My Stuff. The smell of my sister’s house when we arrived to exchange gifts and eat the best dinner ever – and the holiday rolls! Hugs from Mom, that aren’t like any other hugs in the world. My brother, my nieces, Ordinarily Megan, all the rest. Monster laughing at me getting tipsy on Christmas wine. The dusting of snow on the ground, maybe. If it felt like it. The party at my last job there, with people I’d come to think of as family.
But there’s always a flipside. Don’t forget the flipside. How many times have I loved the B side? How cool is Janus?
We have had to downsize our giving drastically, limiting gifts to one apiece from each of us to the others. It takes a lot more thought and effort and a lot less money that way, and the gifts are actually better. We make a trip downtown to do our minimal shopping together, enjoying the lights and the scrumptious store window displays, stopping for a hot drink and a sweet treat. I think this year we may check out Snowflake Lane in Bellevue, with its ice skaters and live toy soldiers. Even if the Tominator does win the sweepstakes, I don’t think we’ll ever get back on the silly spending merry-go-round.
Dream Girl is indeed finding a niche. She loves her school, she has made some good friends, connected with a local live theater, and been trained as a barista. I am given to understand that being trained as a barista in Seattle is like graduating from the Ivy League of coffee schools. My little bundle of eccentricity is flourishing.
The Great Recession pushed me into something I’ve been wanting to do for decades – earn my college degree. Seattle’s schools are stellar. I am learning fascinating things (even Sadistics…er, Statistics), and I’d forgotten how much I love the academic atmosphere. I will be sitting pretty for a rewarding new career when I’m done.
And there is the Tominator, my Prince Charming. In the sea-level altitude and mild coastal temperatures, he can move around largely without pain, and he can breathe. Breathing simply cannot be overrated. It’s wonderful to see him feeling better than he has in years. His happiness while stringing colored lights around our balcony is infectious.
I can look out my window and see Yule trees, all year round, alive with birds and squirrels. Holiday lights in the Big City are spectacular. I have a fireplace for hanging stockings and enjoying hot cider.

But still.

When I was a little girl we would all gather around the upright grand piano. My mom would play and my dad would sing, and he sounded exactly like Perry Como. This one was his favorite, and mine too:

I’m feeling better now, but I won’t stop missing people. Keep the memories coming. With the Solstice comes the return of the Sun and a lightness to carry us out of this winter hibernation.

Merry Yule, Blessed Bodhi Day, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, — and Happy Newtonmas (or just “enjoy winter!”) for the atheists!

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Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

2 thoughts on “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…new style.”

  1. Deb, looks like you are taking a good solid approach to this. There are good things and there are hard things. Seeing Tom's improved health has to be the part that tips everything in favor of Seattle. I know you miss your family, and that is always hard. Let's take a look back in our family history at Tom Julien and his bride Alice Brewer. He was 36 and she was 30 when he married her in Maryland in 1875. They hadn't seen each other even once during the TEN YEARS of their engagement while he “made a home” for her in Nevada. They took that train west to Winnemucca and she never saw her family or home in Maryland again. They loved each other and they taught their six children to regard Nevada as God's country and the most beautiful place on earth. They were strong people who lived strong lives. How can we be any less?

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  2. You are so right! Sometimes I wonder what kind of pioneer I'd have made. You couldn't just hop on a plane and visit for the holidays, back then. Do you have all of this family history on a website or someplace? It's so fascinating, and I'd love to know more.

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