A Merry Everything And A Happy Always
I arrive at my parents' house, a little later than expected. My stepmother is still decorating the house and my father is hastily putting away the groceries. My stepbrothers are reading and my grandfather sits contented in his armchair. This is the house I grew up in, but only the people in it make it familiar. We fall into our routines and like clockwork we adjust to each other. Only family or really close friends could understand.
I unpack my stuff and go downstairs to help my father. He is stressed out and already worried about dinner. My stepmother is still collecting branches outside to finish our centerpiece and humming to herself. I try to find a way in and my father calms down as we talk about work. Always a safe topic. He asks me longingly what I made for dessert. Our sugar addict is trying to lose weight, so on his cheat day I better have a good dessert. "Apple strudel, baked pineapple with mint and ice cream dad" I confide in him as I see his face light up. Freshly baked? Freshly baked I confirm.
I put R.E.M. on my phone and we sing it along. I get a kiss on the cheek. I clean the radishes and starting putting out our appetizers. Grandfather and I share a Martini. He will be staying with me this week, a tradition we keep every year since my grandmother and mother passed away. I slow down to the pace of his steps and he cradles my head on his lap as we watch Sissi. It's a week I cherish.
We finish our preparations for dinner and start gathering around the table for the first course: fennel soup with goat cheese. Courtesy of my step mother. A glass of white wine washes away a few sour weeks still stuck to my heart like a unshakable blue print. My little brothers talk about school, and how my parents embarrass them on a daily basis. My dad shares an anecdote about lowering his pants in public and my (+)mother on how she arrived at a parent evening last week completely covered in golden glitters. (School project of my youngest brother) My grandfather reads out some poems he has memorised by heart and exhausted by all the attention he retires to the sofa and snores to the sounds of Adele.
After a traditional turkey dinner we gather around the Christmas tree loaded at the foot with Christmas gifts in all shapes and sizes. We argue for 15 minutes on how we are going to exchange gifts and who gets to go first and finally decide on a guessing game. Which animal was my father afraid of the most as a kid? Which is my favourite movie? Who guesses right, gets a present. It's an elaborate game and we lose track of the purpose: unpacking the presents. So we end up just handing over our presents.
We sit on the carpet and munch away at the apple strudel, warm from the oven, in silence. All wearing or perusing through our presents and lost in thought. The peace of the familiarity settled down our hearts and minds, keeping us from worrying about or hurting due to things outside this room. Peace of mind, and a worry-free heart. What more could we wish on a Christmas evening.
A merry everything and happy always,