Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry XMas

I am back to work after a two month lay off. I am in Seattle this time for a few weeks. My hotel is right underneath the Space Needle. I have been in the Seattle area many times in the last few years but this is the first time in ages I have actually spent any time in Seattle so I intend to have fun. It was nice being off over the holidays. My wife was working so I got to take care of all of the family things. Taking the kids to school and their activities. I cooked meals, assisted with homework and helped out with their dance school and at the karate studio. My seven year old son has taken up wrestling and I was able to help coach him and the other younger kids and take him to tournaments. I even baked sweet potato pies for his tap company bake sale. For a man who works on the road most of the year these fatherly times were precious to me. However it had it's downside, even with my wife working our income was very low and we had to scrape to put together a nice Christmas celebration. I wasn't concerned about buying presents, my kids are not materialistic and although they like getting things the "loot" is not what they care about.

We do have our Christmas traditions however and they are not inexpensive and some we had to skip. Usually we go to see the Nutcracker performed by the local ballet company and attend several other holiday events which we were unable to do this year and these things were missed. Some things however had to be kept, it was tempting to just do a turkey or ham instead of paying a fortune for our Christmas goose but I resisted the temptation. My daughter and I have been making a goose since she was four and I couldn't miss out on that. It came out beautifuly, golden brown and crispy with moist, dark meat and a wonderful stuffing, rich with herbs and studded with chestnuts and cranberries. The wine is also traditional but was almost to expensive, Since my wife and I started celebrating Christmas together I have always served Gew├╝rztraminer for Christmas dinner. It is not an inexpensive wine ever but most years I can shop around and fine good bottles for 10-12 dollars but this year it was going for 18-20. Fortunately I am persistent and after searching pretty much everywhere in town I found an excellent one from a vinyard just a few miles from home at a price I could afford. I also had fun looking so that was an added bonus. In the end our celebration was everything I could hope for.

One great moment was when my wife and I opened our gifts to one another. We had not planned to buy each other gifts at all, intending to spend our money on the children and of course the bills but at the end we decided to get each other a little something. Actually my wife had already bought my presents but I didn't know that yet. Anyway I suggested to her that I needed new pajamas and a new set of stereo headphones. She didn't give me any hints so I just bought what I thought she would like. The night before Christmas my wife said "I should have got us new pillows for Chrismas mine are all worn out, I really need to get something I can sleep on." When I opened my gifts I found new pajamas and headphones that she bought a month before I told her I needed them and she opened the expensive memory foam pillow I had picked out for her. That brought home to me how close we really are, that we just know each others wants and needs without being told. We did well with our children as well, they both asked Santa for new bikes, which is fortunate because we already had them stored in my moms garage.

The best part is the family time, getting together with parents and siblings and nieces and nephews, Sharing joy and love with each other as we sometimes forget to do during more mundane times of the year. Christmas really is as the song says the most wonderful time of the year. Even though as an atheist I am not celebrating the birth of Christ, as someone raised in America the traditions and pagentry of the holiday are an essential part of my life and family. I know there are some atheists who choose not to celebrate Christmas and some Christians who say we shouldn't but the holiday to me transcends its Christian signifigance. Just as Christians have appropriated it from its pagan origins and turned it to their needs I celebrate it in honor of what it means to me.