Today was my best Christmas Day ever. I have to say it aloud, for perfect moments do not last long, and are thus so easily forgotten.
Had I the option to go back in time a day and tell past self how great this day will go, my past self would have thought the main reason was about presents. Yet in hindsight, I can't immediately remember what gifts I received, or even what gifts I gave. Today a harmonious confluence hung in the air like errant beads brought together to create a once-thought-lost necklace:
- The brined (22.73 pound) turkey I made this year was exquisite. In fact, it was so moist and succulent that it actually fell apart as I carved it.
- The mashed potatoes (the first I had ever made from scratch) were superb. We'll be making more of those!
- The microwaved sweet potatoes (sprinkled with Equal and cinnamon—how much easier can you make it?) were remarkably delicious.
- My 9 month old daughter's sleep schedule was ideal... she crashed at exactly the right time and stayed asleep for longer than expected. Critically, she did not cry once, or even got cranky at all.
- My wife took care of our daughter for most of the day, letting me do the bulk of the cooking. And she even did the dishes when I passed out after dinner.
- Our new holiday-appropriate plateware, a gift from the in-laws, was simply gorgeous to look at, a definite step up from our casual plateware, or even our formal china.
- Our tablecloth, a crimson fleur-du-lit pattern, was positively regal.
- I was surrounded only by people I care about, of whom I shared a close bond with three—my daughter, my mother, and my wife. And I got to see them all interact with each other... and get along.
- Our house did not seem cramped with too many guests.
- My mother finally got to play the Pirates of the Caribbean Monopoly game she gave us this year, which she'd been hounding me about all week—so I knew she'd be shutting up about it. Also, during gameplay, I realized it was the first time I'd played Monopoly with a largish group since I did my stint in real estate and its high-stakes negotiating, meaning the possibility to do creative deals was much more possible; the end result was leveraging my initially disparate properties into 4 monopolies, a personal best.
- While playing Monopoly, typically an impossible game to play in my family without some sort of fight breaking out, everyone was laughing consistently for at least an hour. In fact, I'm still giddy from it.
- I finally crawled into bed to watch the endlessly charming movie Stardust with my wife. I feel like a kid again.
- I drank 2 Newcastles while watching a movie. I feel like a teenager again.
At the end of this wonderful day, I'm left with a feeling that Christmas is not really about giving gifts to each other at all. Not physical gifts, anyways. It's really more about sharing your time with friends and family. It's about laughing as deeply as you can with those who really matter to you, and holding that memory as close as you can to your heart for as long as possible. It's not about giving, it's about living.
Do that well enough and everything that you think matters drops away. Spend time with your friends and family. Find the way to interact that you all enjoy the best. Spin it out as long as you can. People come and go, but those memories will live as long as you do.