When I think of Christmas 2016, I will think of the hellish month that led up to it. I will think of the deep undying sadness of those days and the way Joey and I dropped all usual holiday priorities for things and people that were much more important.
I will think of the way we spontaneously volunteered to cook Christmas lunch for 15+ people, never having hosted that many people or even cooking a turkey before.
I will think of the week leading up to Christmas. Of the supportive and understanding conversation I had at the book swap I went to. Of the dinner I shared with Lori, Adam, Chad and Joey. Walking through the Renaissance Hotel all decked out in holiday glitz. Of the show we all attended that was so so inappropriate but also so so funny and how good it felt to laugh that hard.
I will think of the way Joey and I slow danced to Amos Lee in our living room. How I stood in the doorway between our hallway and kitchen later that night, surveying our little home and our Christmas tree all lit up and feeling so fortunate and happy.
I will think of Joey’s grandma telling me she liked the restaurant I picked for Christmas Eve breakfast and realizing how much that kind of approval means to me.
I will think of how much work and preparation went into that Christmas lunch. How many things we crammed into Joey’s truck to make it all happen. How Adam, Steve and KJ got out the crystal, ironed the tablecloths and napkins and set the tables. How Joey cooked the turkey perfectly, mashed the potatoes like a pro and made gravy like he’d been doing it his entire life. It could not have gone easier or smoother and I could not have done it without this amazing person that uncomplainingly commits 100% to anything I get us into.
I will think of Lori and how she does so many things that make the holidays what they are. She takes us to shows and dinners and movies and showers us with gifts and attention. I could not possibly dream up a more loving mother-in-law. I am not worthy, but I am so grateful.
I will think of my own mother. Of how, even at 27, she makes Christmas feel just as special as it did when I was a little kid. It has taken me this long, but I finally realize how much she puts into these holidays and how she does it all for us. She is a saint and I love her so much.
I will think of Christmas Eve with Joey’s family. How hard we all laughed as a present wrapped ten times was passed around the table, each of us taking a turn trying to open it with oven mitts on our hands. There is a steady and reliable positivity about this family that is joyous to be around.
I will think about sitting in my brother and sister-in-law’s living room, passing around old pictures of my family, laughing at hairstyles and fashions of the past then watching Trolls with my niece and nephew. I may have been way too into that soundtrack.
I will think of the hedgehog-shaped mittens Sharon bought Kyla, Javaiah and I just before Thanksgiving and how I could feel her there with us, even if just in spirit.
Mostly, I will think of that amplified feeling of love that was all around.