We spent Christmas together this year, just the two of us in San Francisco. For the first eight years together we went our separate ways for Christmas, it was the easiest thing to do, I saw my family, he his. Sometimes we might visit the other one after Christmas and before New Year but in the main we kept things as they had always been.
The last two years have been different. Last year we were in DC, sharing Indian takeaway with friends. This year we were on holiday, our first holiday which was longer than 4 days since probably last Christmas. It was a quiet affair, the weather in San Francisco was horrid, truly truly horrid and so we didn’t have much of a desire to get out and about. Instead we made one foray to the restaurant for lunch and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, I even squeezed in a two hour nap.
Lunch was dim sum, a big departure from the more traditional Christmas fare, and certainly no pudding, Brussels sprouts or even Port. In some ways it was good to be doing something so different, it made it less odd to be so far away and just the two of us.
As much as it was lovely to be spending the time together and having a very relaxed time, having done things differently for two years I now feel ready to return to more traditional ways and to sharing it with family as well as friends. At some point J and I will get to build our family traditions for Christmas, thankfully this shouldn’t be too contentious as both families are relatively aligned. In the meantime however, I will look forward to next year knowing that it will again be different from the last two but familiar too.
In the last year three couples I know have divorced, two of which I went to their weddings and watched them do exactly what I did just over three years ago. It makes you think seeing your peers divorcing.
As a child I didn’t really see divorce, my parents are still married, coming up on 38 years in May, all my friends’ parents were still married. There was one of my mama’s friends who had divorced but I didn’t really understand it, she had always been that way to me and there was nothing odd about it. Then at 13 one of best friends told me her parents were getting a divorce, her dad had been having an affair. She didn’t talk about it much, alluded to it now and then but mostly in passing and her mum seemed to take it incredibly in her stride. I remember knowing that this woman was strong and respecting her for what she put up with and how she dealt with it.
Then the years ticked by and marriage became something my friends talked about, that I talked about with J, that we eventually embarked upon. We all knew about divorce of course but I think that it was more of an idea than a reality.
And so these three couples have been a slight shock, bringing it home that divorce is a reality. I don’t know what the statistics are these days but I know I have heard figures bandied around between 30 – 50% of marriages end in divorce. I suspect in a majority of these cases the divorce was the ‘right’ thing. That looking back both parties will appreciate that what they did was what they needed. I’ll be interested to talk to my friends in a few years and see what their thoughts are.
In the meantime I shall hope I can be there for them when they need, and I shall hug J just that little bit tighter tonight and be very grateful that he and I both still want to be in this together.
This year is the first year J and I will spend Christmas together. It is also the first year for me to not spend Christmas in the UK with my family. So it’s a year of firsts, a year where we can forge new traditions which are ours and we can be just the two of us and think about the future and where we want to go.
It is also a year where since we are not spending it with others we are avoiding a lot of present buying. For example this year we’re not buying each other Christmas presents. I have bought gifts for the nieces and nephew but my sisters, parents, in-laws, etc no gifts.
It’s rather wonderful. Not only do we save money but so do others and we also save giving and getting stuff which is nice but not needed and thus fills up either ours or someone elses house.
Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts, well chosen, thought out ones, but I like having time to do this. Hence why I enjoy buying birthday presents, they are thankfully a little more spread out throughout the year. But presents for presents sake is something I’m a lot less on board with.
Partly perhaps it’s an age thing, I have most stuff I really need and I don’t have kids so I don’t have people to really get excited about the gift giving bit of Christmas. Partly it’s also that I have been trying a little this year to limit my spending so much, to avoid so much general consumerism and to be a little more environmentally friendly. Still no way near enough I’m sure but every little helps.
I’m sure this will change so this year I shall enjoy a Christmas focused on spending time with my loved one, contacting other loved ones round the world and stuffing myself silly.
As I was walking home this evening I was dreaming of holidays, holidays past and hopefully holidays future. J and I have not a holiday just the two of us since January 2009. Sure we’ve travelled around but we’ve not stopped anywhere and just been together, with each other.
This thought train all started this afternoon when I got an email from Jetsetter, filled with beautiful hotels. So of course I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be lovely. Then the planner side of me thought about dates and all I could think was 2013 looks hopeful.
You see the thing is this move has rather scuppered holiday taking for a while. The first year was taken up with J setting up an office and me being self-employed. We did get away, back to the UK for weddings, up to Massachusetts for a long weekend, but always with others, lovely as that was it’s just not quite a really relaxing holiday. This next year we’ve already got three UK trips pencilled in (three wonderful weddings to attend), plus a hopeful fourth. With me moving onto US holiday allocation this makes trips away a scant possibility.
So here’s hoping that we can snatch the odd long weekend, normal weekend or just some time to be, be together, be away from day-to-day gumpf and cherish this time in our marriage to be just the two of us.
“We Greeks get married in circles, to impress upon ourselves the essential matrimonial facts: that to be happy you have to find variety in repitition; that to go forward you have to come back where you began.”
From Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
I read this and my first thought was yes, absolutely. It then got me thinking about marriage, a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, what with a recent divorce of someone close, hearing about a few friends struggling in their marriages and friends getting engaged.
Something which once the thoughts formulate more in my mind I will try and write about more soon.