I just finished my Coffee Bean latte. I have this thing about “last drinks.” You know…when there is one swallow of beverage left in whatever receptacle you decide to drink out of? I can’t ever bring myself to swallow that one last drink, no matter how thirsty. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that it surely won’t be as satisfying as the several other pervious gulps. You see now it’s either watered down, muddied with back-wash or the remains of what should have been mixed throughout the beverage. No…that last drink never seems to be something I look forward to. I will admit, that I drank the last drink of my $3.56 latee today…and my friends, it was delicious. I was enjoying the drink so much, having just stepped in from the chilly 50 degree air of a Vegas Christmas, that it didn’t occur to me that this was the much feared “last drink” that I often dodge. After finishing my latte, I thought to myself “back-wash or not, that was delightful.”
There was a lady on the afternoon news today that the press stopped in the mall (reflecting on a piece about the 11th hour shopping crunch) who said plainly “we had decided not to do Christmas this year. We were going to Cabo. But, at the last minute we got roped into things again.”
This year also marks the first time in 11 years my wife and I didn’t pack up our wears and pets and fly or drive back to Michigan for the holidays. While I’ll truly miss seeing my family (including my Grandmothers, two neices who are growing like weeds and my newly married brother and his wife) I did look forward to a vacation of rest. Oftentimes the holidays tend to be as busy as a bustling Best Buy. Calendars are filled with obligatory visits to all four-corners of the family tree and subsequent journeys through slushy wonderlands in the four-wheeled drive sleighs, instead of watching snowflakes gently fall from the warm interior of one’s living room, conspiring and dreaming by the fire (as the pictures are painted so often in movies.) It’s become a double-edged sword. Living so far away, we don’t see family as often as we’d like, and yet, during a time of peace and love…our cups runneth over in the love category…but we return home tired, and rushed to return to normalcy before the break is over.
But, somehow, I felt obligated to offer my take on deciding “not to do Christmas this year.”
My wife recently took a pair of electric clippers and buzz-cut my hair. (Down to 1/2 an inch.) Why? I’m not sure. My love / hate relationship with my ever-growing receded hairline is marked in the annals of history…but I found myself thinking about how I could pull off a short hair-style. This year, with no family to visit, no scheduled appointments, and two-weeks to hate myself if it doesn’t work out…I decided to take the plunge. She clipped…and I sat silently convincing myself “you know, Patrick Stewart is quite dapper for a bald guy.” I didn’t shave my head, mind you. Just clipped…and sat…and then felt the peach skin that was my head afterward….then I went out and bought a hat.
Is it bad? Well…it’s extremely different. It’s very, very different. I’m all about change, but people will tell you that I’m all about “the show” when it comes to the presentation of anything, including myself. (Call it vanity…fine. But when you’re this good looking….! JK)
I didn’t much care for the final result. Who knows…it might grow on me. Truth be told, some of my options are running out…so this might be one of those times that while right now it isn’t exactly what I want…down the road, this might help ease me into an otherwise ice-cold bath when my options are considerably limited. So…I’ll go with it. I’m ready for the barrage of questioning that will surely ensue upon my return to the classroom. (Everyone gets an “F” unless they say it’s fetching!)
I’m looking forward to the Christmas Eve service tonight. Christmas Eve candlelight service is always one to help set the right tone for the coming of the Christ child, and always helps me tune out the holly jolly, mass-produced commercial Christmas, and bring it back to the intimate manger scene on a night long ago. While I won’t be sitting next to my extended family this year, and I surely won’t awake to my niece’s knee in my ribs, jumping up and down shouting “it’s Christmas!” I assure you I will awake to my lovely wife, and the same feeling of joy in knowing that this is a celebration of the birth of the Savior who came to this earth to die for us.
My concern is that my family might think we’re lazy this year…or uncaring. My fear is that they think we would rather not be with them. Well, while that is certainly not true, as we get older and continue to move forward in our own lives we are interested in looking at what might be in the best interest of us, right here, right now. It may not seem like the best decision, or the most sensitive…or whatever, but, often times when a big decision needs to be made, there tends to be questions. So, I’ll insist that this year we made the right decision in staying home…and I’m having a brilliant, intimate Christmas with my wife and dogs….I’ll Skype my relatives and post status updates on Twitter…and we’ll make sure that Christmas cheer transcends time and space.
It wasn’t so bad taking that last swallow of latte. It wasn’t so bad, biting the bullet and lopping off my locks. Looking back, would I do it differently? Maybe. Getting “roped into things” is part of the spontaneity and thrill of having a family. But then again…change is good. Enjoy that last swallow of latte…thinking “who cares what others think. Gimmie a splash of bay rum!” That’s perfectly fine in my book. Just so long as you have a candlelight service to ground you into the true reason for the holiday above all.
To my friends and family, and to all others who are with family, or away from family this holiday season, MERRY CHRISTMAS.