Holiday Tradition: OH, this is how it starts…
I kinda expected to be sad today. I’d planned for it. I mean, we’re 2,000 miles from home, all alone, just the two of us, with no plans and no place to go for the holidays.
And then I thought about it, and thought, holy hell, that’s awesome!
Thanks to the miracle that is technology, we were able to talk to all of our family via video chat–except my parents, though my dad did say today “Gwen, why aren’t we in the new world?” as we talked to him on their old-fashioned landline. You know, one of those phones that you can’t take with you in your purse or car? Yeah, they still have one.
We talked to all the other parents and siblings, and even had a nice doggie rendezvous between Em and my sister’s dog Lucy. We joked about the fact that we needed a day-planner for all of our Skype dates. And about the fact that even though we weren’t in the same city with these family members, we were still scheduled all day long.
And while it isn’t the same as drinking wine together in the same room, toasting the season with my sister and her husband is about as close as you can get, and it was great. I talked with my aunts and uncles and grandma for the first time since we’ve been in Seattle (I know, bad granddaughter). My parents called to play us silent night on the guitar and dulcimer. We got to see our nephews and niece all crazy and over-sugared.
But the best thing about the last 48 hours? Lunch.
After we did the morning cinnamon roll gorging and coffee with “cheer” drinking, after we video chatted with the fam, we decided (well I suggested, and since I was up at the crack of dawn making the cinnamon rolls, Brian gritted his teeth and went along with the suggestion) to go for a walk on the beach. Beach as in the Puget Sound beach, not the Lake Washington beach, which requires us to get in the car and drive a wee bit. So, there we are, walking into the stiff wind, watching the ferries cross the sound, gazing upon the Seattle skyline from the west, listening to the harbor seals. The dog is chasing the seagulls, the sun is ducking behind some mean looking rainclouds and I point out this awesome burger joint on the beach. And then I point out the open sign. And all the faces in the windows.
We looked at one another, and it was decided. What better way to spend Christmas afternoon than eating dive-y greasy burgers on the beach? And sure enough, we walked in and the whole place was aglow with Christmas lights and décor, the holiday music ringing. The Asian couple behind the counter was chipper and cheery, and the burgers were juicy and the onion rings to die for.
And I looked around at the other customers and saw happy people—quite the opposite of what I expected. I thought we’d find sad old men with no families, or young people who couldn’t afford to make the trip home. Not so. They were couples and sisters and a mother and her grown son. They were obviously all engaging in what I’d call alterna-holiday, celebrating slightly outside the norm. And they were so happy and relaxed. We joked, exchanged greetings, and took pictures of one another. We watched the ferry boats in front of the heater and drank fountain sodas. And ate the best burger I’ve had in a long time, so good we decided not to make the beef tenderloin I’d been planning for Christmas dinner—still stuffed full of onion rings.
I reflected earlier about how to start a holiday tradition. It starts with great memories, I guess. Every year we spend in Seattle at Christmas on our own, we will be back to that dive-y little burger joint and it will represent something cheesy and ironic and perfectly weirdly Beahan-ly holiday.