I wrote this on Christmas night, after a beautiful day with my family.
And while Luna sleeps curled around my full belly, that sleep that only babies have when they have had their fill of sleepy mothers milky, I reflect on Christmasses past, those of many, many years ago, those of not that far ago in the recent past.
Those times in the tiny village in England, a few decades ago, a pretty Christmas tree and snow on the ground, Listening for Father Christmas from the top of my bunk bed, wondering if I would be able to hear the reindeer land on the roof. Pillow cases full of presents under the tree on Christmas morning, playing in the snow with Daddy and eating our full of dinner made by Mummy.The same food that I continue to make at Christmas today, in some shape or form.
There was that Christmas is Holland that wasn't really Christmas because everyone celebrated Sinterklaas on December 5th, where we felt a little strange and out of place, as if Christmas had just been postponed for a year and would be back the next when we flew back home to be with the rest of our family. England just always felt just the way it should at Christmas with the lights and the bells and the shops and the TV shows and the tinsel and the songs. While I spent many a Christmas in France growing up, amidst the snowy mountains, a fairytale Winter city, nothing beat the Christmas feeling in England. Mainly due to nostalgia of those Christmasses spent as a child waiting for Father Christmas to surprise us, leaving mince pies for the reindeer and school plays with The Snowman song in the background. Watching Scrooge (the one with Albert Finney and Alec Guinness) and listening to The Pogues and Wham and Band Aid.
Then came the time when I would travel across the ocean to California to spend Christmas with my family, discover new friends and new traditions, Christmas in the warmer weather and the sun, everything so much newer and cleaner and bigger. A strange type of Christmas which felt paradoxically home-like and very, very foreign. There was one Christmas spent in Israel where 12 of us all banded together and had our own Christmas dinner and party in the volunteer house, the kibbutzniks helping us have a merry Christmas away from home, in a country where the majority of the population does not celebrate the holiday. A mix of different traditions and foods from all around the world, celebrated altogether. A Christmas Day spent on the beach in Tel Aviv, sunshine, falafel, bourekas and sachleb, with bare feet in the sea.
And then, 10 years ago, New York City became my home. The city that brings Christmas to life like no other. Christmas trees for sale on the streets, beautiful lights all over the city, pop-up ice skating rinks and beautifully decorated trees, snow and ice and shows and laughter. Christmas parties and Christmas dinners, the search for Christmas crackers and Mr Kipling’s mince pies. Every year new traditions were created, until this year when for the first time in our lives, I spent my first Christmas with both of my loves together, my wonderful boyfriend and my beautiful daughter. The excitement at finding that perfect present, wrapping it up and putting it under the tree, waiting to see how she would unwrap it on Christmas morning. Devising menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, based on our own childhood traditions and ones that we wanted to create. Waking up together and dressing up, just because we felt like it. Wishing people a Merry Christmas on our walk and feeling so happy and blessed, as this is how life should be.
While I reflect on all of those special moments in the past and this Christmas that has just gone by, I also have to think of those in the future, and how one day I hope that Cesar and I will be able to sit back and watch our children and grandchildren create their own traditions. Christmas will always be my favourite holiday, and there will always be something so special about it, something that transcends the gifts and the food, a feeling of happiness, joy and gratefulness.