What makes Christmas feel like Christmas?
Half my friends are boarding planes, on their routes home to their families for the holidays. With only three days off between shows, I've made the choice to stay in Copenhagen. It's not a bad place to be stuck for Christmas, in all honesty. Copenhagen is completely lit up during the holidays, with markets on every corner and square, and Tivoli Gardens itself is the next best thing to Santa's workshop in the North Pole. But a part of me can't help but feel a little lost.
Christmas, for the last 21 years of my life has been relatively consistent. A big Christmas Eve dinner at my parents' house, followed by midnight mass and all my siblings sleeping over, staying up well into the night to play board games and pick at the leftovers. The dynamic changed only a little when my niece and nephews were born, bringing in the exuberance of little kids running around and giving my dad the excuse to hop into a Santa suit, but the idea behind our family Christmas still remained. Then Christmas morning, we would all stick around for a huge breakfast and, whoever was available, would always make the effort to go to the cinema at night.
This is my first year doing Christmas without the ten members of my family. Being someone dependent on my family traditions for creating the atmosphere of Christmas, this is why 2016 is both a little sad and exciting for me. It marks my first year of creating my own traditions, independently. It's a clean slate for Christmas, where I choose what goes.
So I've decided to invite the other half of my colleagues, also forced to stay behind, over to my apartment for a Christmas Lunch. The number of guests is impressively approaching twenty people and I don't think I've ever hosted a party this big. Nevertheless, trying to keep my cool.
And since my friends are amazing, everyone is contributing to the food and alcohol elements of Christmas Lunch 2016! Which is great, because, if you've viewed my last post, you'll see I barely know how to work my oven! I'm also lucky enough to have two fantastic Danish roommates who have eloquently captured the essence of jul hygge within our apartment. For weeks now, we've had an effervescent Christmas tree, draped with candy canes and pebbernødder-filled braided Christmas hearts, a loop of Christmas carols and films, and all the clementines you could ever ask for. I've picked up some holly and mistletoe and have arranged my own centrepiece (making Mom proud). I've bought five boxes of Christmas crackers and some festive poinsettia serviettes. But most importantly, I've bought a very necessary Bailey's to spike the hot chocolate.
Today is my day to be domestic and spend the day cleaning the whole apartment. I'm about halfway through my checklist and I feel like Danny Tanner. So empowered. So adult. I've watched the sun rise and set in one day and I'm at peace with having a quiet Christmas Eve to myself, in preparation for tomorrow's events. This isn't anything near the Christmas I'm used to and I'll admit that I'm trying hard not to think about the quality family time that I'm missing out on and the rosy cherub faces of the kids. Yet, I've accepted this idea of a new and different Christmas. It happens every year and it will always be there, so why not try something new? Maybe I'll learn there is more to Christmas than solely the traditions. Maybe I'll come to value something new this time around.
So, before I start sounding too much like a Disney movie, I'll conclude with a solid: