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When Traditional Isn’t…

Now is just about the time when many of us start to plan the next year. We think about what we want to accomplish and where we want to go and what we want to change. I’m no different – there are things I want to do in the new year and I’m preparing to prepare for lack of a more elegant phrasing.

But before I turn the page on the month of December and lay out what I want to be doing in 2013, I want to reflect, just a bit, on where A and I are at this very moment. Why this moment? It’s as good as any, it seems.

A and I were talking about traditions earlier this week. For the past 15 years, I have made sure there is a gigantic live Christmas tree for the Christmas season. I go out and attempt to find the biggest tree I can imagine actually fitting in our apartment and then we decorate it. I know you’re thinking, but wait, A is 20. And you’d be right. You see, there was this one Christmas – the first one after her dad and I separated, when I couldn’t figure out how to not be sad, so I waited and waited and the closer it got to Christmas, the more I realized we didn’t have a tree. A’s Grammy was wonderful – she invited us to her home for Christmas so we did that, but on Christmas morning I asked A to draw us a giant tree and we taped it to our living room wall. Even with the sadness of change, I wanted something to look close to normal.

A few years ago, after my hysterectomy, “The One” flew in to help me find a tree. By then the tradition had become me going out to find the tree, everyone placing one ornament, then sitting back on the couch while I spent a couple of hours untangling lights and hanging the rest of the ornaments. Last year, my writing partner helped me carry yet another tree into the apartment. This one was probably too big but I really didn’t care. I have this need to get as close-to-perfect of a tree because for so many years growing up, our tree lived in a box for 11 months out of the year and I imagined that when I got older I’d have a beautiful pine tree in my living room taking up space.

When A’s dad and I were younger, we’d get our tree on the eve of Christmas Eve. We’d walk to Fordham Road in the Bronx and he’d pick out a giant tree, which he would the proceed to carry home. I think I loved him the most on those nights because he looked so happy.

Here we are and another Christmas has managed to make its way into our apartment. I’ve been waiting for weeks for A to get home from college. When I realized that she wouldn’t be home until the 21st, I asked what she thought about getting a tree. She said: Let’s not.

Gasp. What? Why? Who is this? The answer is that she is exhausted from school and I think she knows I’m exhausted from working so much this past year. She said we should start a new tradition. In some ways, I think she is preparing me now for the day when she is not with me on Christmas. She knows she wants to live in California and she thinks we should move. I’m not so sure about going home when New York feels like home. Plus, California is not close to Paris. That’s important. But I do feel like wherever A will be, I will be, too.

Traditions.  Every year, A goes to her Grammy’s for Christmas Eve dinner. Grammy and her aunts make a fantastic spread and they stay up late having a good time, then A sleeps over and I go to pick her up the next morning and we drive around deciding what to eat. This year, the dinner is at a local restaurant. Seems like everyone is looking to create new traditions. It’s time for me to get with the times.

We haven’t listened to Christmas music for hours and hours on end. I didn’t gift wrap the front door. There isn’t a stocking for Britney. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to go without a tree because this is New York and you can get anything up until the last minute. Until you can’t anymore.

What I do know is that my 20 year old is home with me and that’s the longest running tradition in this household. I’ll try to remember that next year when I am complaining about tradition.

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