For 29 years I spent all my Christmases at home. There was always a fresh tree in the living room decorated with colourful lights. We would sit together on Christmas Eve and have a fish soup with croutons and panniered carp with potatoes and white cabbage. At the table, there would always be my parents and my brother. Always.
But when last year I spent my first Christmas with my husband and son at my parents in law something has changed. It was a beautiful time when we celebrated for the first time as a family. Yet I couldn’t get over a feeling that it wasn’t right. Everything was different. I was in another country in a new role as a wife and mum and daughter in law. We sang different songs, we ate different food and we did different things. It felt special, yet not natural.
I have never thought, that it will feel it that strongly. I think last Christmas was the time when I really became an adult. Not when I passed my matura exam, not when I got my first job or when I moved to a new country completely on my own. My adulthood started with realising that from now on every Christmas will be different. The only thing that will stay the same will be my husband and our children. The countries, music, food and traditions will vary. But as long as there is love in us Christmas will come. In different forms and celebrations and in a different company.
People, who will sit with us at the table will also vary. It hit me today when I realised that this year, although I am coming home to Poland for Christmas, my brother won’t be there on Christmas Eve. He also has the family on his own and two sweet daughters, who are small and need to have their good night sleep at a certain time. We will have a festive dinner the day after and it will be wonderful, but… it will be different. Christmas was always very magical for me. Even as an adult I had this little girl’s excitement right before we would sit at the table. I could really feel the holiday spirit. I haven’t realised how strongly it was connected with the traditions in which I grew up and how it affected me when it all changed last year.
This year although we are going back to my home it will be different again. It doesn’t make me sad. It makes me a little bit anxious, that I might create a picture of feelings and relations and when life will paint it another way I will subconsciously feel disappointed. Which would be irrational. Because different doesn’t mean worse. This Christmas and all the coming ones I have to learn that Christmas comes in all settings and with a different company. And the little girl in me has to take a new piece of paper and draw a new picture of Christmas every year. And then enjoy it exactly as it comes.