Originally published December 22, 2012.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to chat about the twenty-something lifestyle–or at least, figure out what exactly that means. So many magazines/blogs are written for capital-T Teenagers, or maybe just overgrown Teenagers, who care about boys and boys and hair and boys. So many more magazines/blogs are written for capital-A Adults, with 2.5 kids, a golden retriever and a dishwasher.
I am neither of these things. I am a twenty-something woman–whatever that means. I like boys and hair just fine, and family is great, but I’m not really in a position to zoom into any of those niched-out worlds. In my world, I read cracked.com, watch College Humour, and try to understand your favourite webcomics (usually, I even get the obscure jokes…or pretend to). I try to care about the news. I scroll down to the comments after paragraph #1 bores me. I read almost anything put into a list, especially if it makes me laugh. I enjoy the odd Capital-A Adult blog, if it’s candid enough.
But what of this directly relates to me? Not much.
Fact is, I can’t seem to buy into any “chicklet” journalism. I also can’t fully skip into the world of those who seem to have their shit fully together, all tied up with a neat little mortgage and morning routine. I’m not there yet. At all.
And so I’m here, writing about what “getting there” means. I find myself constantly straddling the “I totally know what I’m doing,” and “Dude, I know NOTHING.” Maybe that’s just how life goes, but I’m feeling new at it. I am new at it.
And, like many people who are “getting there,” I’m definitely new at doing Christmas like this.
I’m new at doing Christmas like a lowercase-a adult who’s very much in between traditions. Last year, I hosted our immediate family Christmas at my apartment–which was good, but weird. This year, I came down to my parents’ place for Christmas. My parents live in the suburbs of a medium-sized city. The transit system is awful. The backyard is big. I lived here for eight years, or so they tell me.
This is weird, too. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but it is.
The family is different. We’re older. There used to be people here who aren’t here anymore. Some have passed away, or otherwise walked away, but some just grew up. Capital-T Teenage Shauna isn’t here anymore. Neither is the overzealous-about-family-crafts Mom. All four kids used to live at this house, but now only half of us do. The puppy is has clearly become a fully-grown dog in my absence.
It’s not that there isn’t enough love in the room. It’s just that it looks and feels different, even though the room is the same. Any expectations that I hold onto about good ol’ family Christmas are at risk. I have to get my head around that.
I know that different is okay.
Today, I started feeling kind of odd as I hung new decorations, coordinated with the new furniture, with my newly adult-ish family. I didn’t expect it to feel quite so “new.” I lived here for eight years, right? I know these people. It’s December. We got this.
It wasn’t wrong. The new stuff looks good. It’s alright that we waited so long to decorate, that we were only half there, and that we didn’t go all out. And it’s not a bad thing that we decided to grow up a bit–it has definitely done wonders for our conversation and cocktails. It’s okay that people and traditions change, or even that they sometimes leave altogether.
But it’s also okay if different doesn’t feel perfect right away.
People and traditions stay around so long as they’re good and healthy and make sense. And they leave when they’re done. This is the natural order of things. It’s change. It makes room for other things to come in, it makes you appreciate that which is stays around, it gives you a basis with which to develop your own traditions.
But the process of un-learning and re-learning what to expect (or how to stop expecting) can be unsettling. I felt that today. After hanging those new decorations for a few minutes, I decided to take a breather. The whole scene wasn’t really working for some reason. Commence attitude adjustment in my old bedroom (now dad’s office). I looked out the window, read a couple Psalms, considered a nap.
Suddenly my phone went off. It was a friend of mine from Ottawa:
Move safely and be lovely ❤
What? That was perfectly timed, and completely unexpected.
I responded: Haha what a random message! But thank you.
She texted back: I was just thinking of you. Moving off to washington. I look forward to creeping photo albums.
This friend is not a person I knew back when I lived here. I am not even a person I knew back when I lived here.
Would I trade my new life for some old decorations? Not a chance. That doesn’t mean I have to be completely comfortable with this updated version of Christmas. Not right away, at least. I just have to accept that it is the product of a lot of moving forward, and that moving forward is good. This friend, and all my Ottawa friends, are great. My upcoming opportunity in Washington is fantastic.
I went downstairs. I sat on a new chair, in front of a new computer, and pulled up a YouTube video I had just discovered. My brothers, now old enough to face profanity, laughed through it with me. I suggested that after decorating (whatever that means this year) all six of us gather in the living room and watch the Christmas episodes of Community. Unanimous agreement. And so, armed with gluten free snacks for our growing number of celiac family members, we sat in front of the television. Netflix streamed to us the meaning of Christmas according to NBC:
Maybe this Christmas is different. Maybe it’s going to be a little different each year. I’m not going to like all the changes that happen in life. I might even sob in the face of some of them. But tonight proved that–with a little flexibility, a little creativity, and a lot of love–I can laugh in the face of some of them, too.
Move safely. Be lovely. Let different be.