It's early. Earlier than usual for Christmas these days - ever since my sister and I got to be lazy teenagers Christmas morning stopped being a first thing event. This year, though, her boyfriend waits anxiously at my parents' house, and out of niceness to him we've gotten up early. (I have, anyway. I'm not sure about my sister.) Jamie is in the shower, and I sit in the living room with the Christmas tree, enjoying what is sure to be the last moment of peace in a hectic day.
I am surprised by how easy this is. I always thought that the first Christmas I didn't spend at home would be strange and unhappy. And last night was the first time in my life that I didn't spend Christmas Eve sleeping in the same house as my sister and parents. But somehow, it doesn't feel strange. I am comfortable here, in our little house, and our tree is already filled with memories. It feels right somehow, despite its unfamiliarity. Last year, I felt like I didn't quite belong anywhere. Erin and I left our apartment to go to our respective parents' houses, where we slept on uncomfortable beds and argued with our sisters. It felt weird to sleep at my parents' house again, but would have been stranger to stay alone in my apartment. (It was, however, one of the best homecomings ever when Erin and I both got back to the apartment and got to spend the entire day gossiping about our presents, watching tv, and lounging on the couch.)
But now, I have my own little family, and staying here in my delicious bed is not strange at all. Last night, after church, we opened our presents to each other like we always have. (Jamie only allows it because it's after midnight and therefore technically Christmas.) He went to bed, and I stuffed his stocking. Neither of us fell asleep easily, not helped by the random phone call from an unknown caller at nearly 4am that had me totally convinced that my cat had actually died this time. (So far so good - kitty is still fine.) (My cat almost died on Christmas last year, so we're all a little paranoid.) He got up before me this morning, though I was already awake, and stuffed my stocking. And we got up, and opened them, and it felt like I'd been doing it all my life.
All those years of worrying about how I would ever live with a different kind of Christmas, and now I find myself wondering what, exactly, I was so afraid of.