Despite all the fun, I had my moments where I was feeling a little down and stressed. With the week off of work, I took a few hours and gave in to one of my addictions.
Soap operas. Yes, I had sworn off when two of my favorites got cancelled, deciding my heart would not be broken again by some TV execs who decided that a long time genre needed to be replaced by yet another “reality” courtroom show. The closest I usually get is “Nashville”, a nighttime show that has a real daytime feel to it. But since it was the holiday season, I decided to indulge.
To me, soap operas and the holidays seem to go together. My mother use to say Christmas was the only time they didn’t have some sort of tragedy lined up. When I was a kid, I would watch “Days of Our Lives”, when the Hortons put their special Christmas ornaments with the family names on the tree. Sometimes people would just show up at the door and be welcomed into their party. Then they would all sing Christmas songs.
Our family was small. My mother liked color coordinated trees, so there were no keepsake ornaments. Although there were always a lot of gifts for me, (I was an only child), we never had a big celebration. My parents never played Christmas music and we didn’t have people showing up at the door. I was also the only grandchild on my father’s side so the only big family celebrations were when we stopped by my mother’s side of the family on Christmas Day and I got to hang with some of my cousins. Always the best part of the holiday, but always so short. I vowed when I became an adult, I would have the Christmas Eve I saw on those soap operas.
When I moved to California, I decided I would start my own traditions. My tree had ornaments with the years on them and keepsakes from places I had visited over the years. Each one of my pets had their own ornament. After my fire, I started collecting again and my cousin and other family and friends sent me wonderful additions that grace my tree every year.
I also decided that no one should ever spend Christmas Eve alone. So every year, I hosted a Christmas Eve open house. Come whenever, eat, drink and be merry! I found many people either didn’t have family or didn’t have plans, so every year people came. Through the years, the core group became my California family. Friends who started coming when their children were in diapers. Children who now are college graduates, but still always find time to stop by.
This year, everyone seemed to show up at the same time. The regulars brought some newcomers. 20 people in a house under 1,000 square feet with a cranky cat and a 90 pound dog is not exactly comfortable, but everyone seemed to be having a good time. I went to use the one and only bathroom at one point and while I was in there, I could hear all the rooms in my little house, filled with Christmas music, laughter and conversation.
In the days before Christmas, I had moments where I was focused on what had not gone right with the year. My jeans being tighter and my wallet being lighter. All the goals I hadn’t quite accomplished. All the things that hadn’t worked out the way I thought they would when I was child.
But that night, I realized one dream had come true. I had my soap opera Christmas Eve. Not exactly like on the shows, with their grand homes and lavish gifts, but every bit as wonderful.
Let New Year’s Day be a time for goals and reflections. Let Christmas be about love and joy.
A tradition I didn’t get from a soap opera, but one I plan to continue all through the years.