When B & I were in college and law school we each went home for Christmas – me to Utah, where my parents have retired (mountain air and fresh snow!) and him to Detroit, where his parents were born and raised (Motor City!) and when we became engaged and married, we took turns visiting our respective families for the holidays.
This year we decided we were staying in Chicago for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We invited all our family members but told them we needed a break from the snowy December travel, with flight delays and closed interstates and trying to figure out how to transport gifts to and from. Although everyone was understanding about our decision, as it turned out, none of them were able to make the trip here to Chicago. Suddenly we realized it was going to be our first Christmas just the two of us.
What started as a little bit of sadness and apprehension turned slowly but surely into excitement. Christmas just the two of us? Why, we could do ANYTHING!
My family always has pizza and movies on Christmas Eve, B’s family has a big party for everyone in the Detroit area filled with kids and kielbasa and a visit from Santa. We debated trying to keep some of those traditions alive, but we realized that while we will always cherish them at home, it was time to come up with our own rituals. We invited the scoundrel known as the Namby Pamby over for Christmas Eve, where we plan on enjoying a taco bar with all the fixings before heading out for candlelight service at church. Christmas morning we plan on having monkey bread (a nod to my family) and nibbling on appetizers (a nod to B’s family party) before indulging in… delicious seafood. Yes, seafood. Prime rib for two seems absurd, a turkey more-so. What better time than to steam up mussels and lobster?
That meant that today we went on the great search for lobster. The first few stops were for naught, with no live Maine lobster or no lobster at all. We were covered in fish scales, and B was splattered with fish blood from one of the monger’s cracking down on a monk-fish. We had battled parking at every location, with Grinches swooping in and stealing spots left and right. Finally we picked up a tip that a small seafood shop in Lincoln Park had live lobsters and we began battling holiday traffic to get there. We were not quite sure which block it was on and so as we stopped and went and went and stopped with crazy drivers all around we craned our necks looking for street numbers and signs. Finally, B thought he saw something on a sign ahead and sure enough, the numbers were very close to where we needed to be. We were elated.
See the sign?! Fish!
I nodded in agreement before yelling out in glee;
Quick a parking spot! SNAG IT!!
We maneuvered quickly, because the SPOT WAS OURS and OMG LOBSTER and as we began jumping out of the car and looking up at our glorious destination when we did a double take.
“Pet Supplies & Fish” we both read in unison, aloud.
We had just tried to buy Christmas dinner at….PetCo.
Maybe next year we should go home. I don’t think we are grown up enough for this nonsense.
(We did find the shop we were looking for and came home with 2 lobsters & 2 pounds of mussels. The inaugural Daisy-B Christmas Day lobster race will be held in our hallway Christmas afternoon. Place your bets: my lobster, Scarlett (because that is what color she is going to be when I EAT HER UP) versus B’s lobster…Larry. Yeah. He has NO imagination. Video to follow.)
When my parents were first married they were rich on love and poor on money. My Dad was a young pilot in the Air Force and my Mom was working on getting her real estate license, so she was shocked and delighted when my Dad arrived home one December day with two packages, painstakingly wrapped in Nordstroms signature gift wrap. She said the packages sat under their little tree, bright and shiny with crisp bows and gorgeous gift tags. My Dad was pleased as punch, and kept telling her how excited she was going to be when she opened them.
For days Mom would look at the boxes and wonder what was inside of them. Diamonds were expensive…but maybe they were little diamonds? Perhaps a cashmere sweater? She dreamed of silk and gold, of Chanel Number 5 or maybe a strand of pearls. She waited and waited and lovingly tucked the boxes into their car for the drive to my Grandparent’s house for the Christmas holiday.
On Christmas morning my Mother was beside herself with excitement. My Dad was practically bursting with pride as he handed her the two boxes and she glanced around as she opened them in front of his entire family.
A stadium seat in the big box and poultry shears in the small box.
To this day, my Dad insists she wanted those items.
To this day, my Mom insists you don’t pay for gift wrap at stores you didn’t actually purchase an item from.
Dad still insists those poultry shears were darn useful.
And Mom likes to remind everyone, it isn’t the wrapping that counts but what is inside.
Just a few holiday lessons from my house to yours!
Sometimes in life, it is the little things.
A piece of snail mail on a rainy day.
A warm cup of coffee in your favorite mug.
Pretty wrapping paper.
A book or magazine sitting on your bedside table and the realization you have a few free hours.
A fresh manicure.
The unconditional love of a pet.
Coming home to flowers.
Twinkling Christmas lights.