It's December … so that happened. Wasn't October 1st, like yesterday? Wasn't I complaining about Christmas decorations being up before Thanksgiving? And now it's like, appropriate to have them out now and it still feels too soon. I am not ready for this!
It used to be that I'd count the days until December happened. My birthday is on the 7th, and then Christmas, a double-whammy. The best month ever when I was a kid … now I find myself hoping November would last a lot longer.
Maybe the thought of the consumer madness that encompasses the holidays now just exhausts me. Maybe I just don't have the time anymore to properly get into the Christmas spirit … and all the cute pictures of crafts, pretty cookies, and DIY decorations on Pinterest makes me feel bad about myself because I just can't dedicate the time to cultivating the twee Instagram Christmas I'd like to have.
All I know is, the holidays just get more depressing every year. The thought of Black Friday makes me physically ill. I dread going to stores. Maybe it's just what happens when you get older? But it's more than that. It was once a celebration of family. I've spent the past three Christmases away from my family, ever since I got engaged, and then married. I've gone up to Ohio to spend time with them directly after December 25th, but it's just not the same.
I think that for a lot of us, Christmas is just so directly linked to childhood. It's one of those special days, even if you're are not religious. Growing up, it was the one day out of the year when my dad couldn't get called into work. It was the one day of the year when everything closed. You needed batteries for your new toy? Well, that's just too bad, no stores were open. It was wonderful.
Even after college, my brother and I would stay at our parent's house on Christmas Eve … because it just didn't feel like Christmas morning unless we woke up to my dad banging pots and pans together in the kitchen, or chopping vegetables for whatever elaborate dinner he was planning. He'd sit and study for weeks, figuring out what to make … coming up with a theme. Writing out a grocery list. Making my mom go to the store for last-minute things he forgot.
And it was always cold, with a possibility for a white Christmas, and a fire in the fireplace. Family would come over and gifts would be exchanged, food would be eaten. Amazing food, I might add. My dad is quite the cook. Me and my brother would watch Mickey's Christmas Carol … still our favorite, no matter how old we were.
But now … people are dispersed, family members have passed away. Things just ain't what it used to be.
I haven't firmed up any holiday traditions here in the five years that I've lived in New Orleans. I go to my Husband's family's get-togethers now, and while it's a great time, and the food is wonderful, it's just not the same. They are my family, but they didn't know me when I was a kid, I don't have much of a history. I feel like I'm just floating around most of the time.
I think it's important for anyone who has moved to a different city, to immediately start their own traditions. New ones. And to find friends to spend holidays with, even if it's not exactly on December 25th. It helps to ease the homesickness a little bit, to participate in the rituals of your new place. And while I know I sound like I'm moping around (because I kind of am), New Orleans is wonderful during the Christmas season. I may never get used to the milder weather, or the palm trees … when it feels like there should be snow on the ground … but this city has amazing traditions of its own.
Here are a few things that I've made a point to visit for the past few years, and if you're new to the area or visiting, you should definitely check out.
If you miss snow, this will help … a little. During Christmas, Fulton Street, the walkway outside of Harrah's Casino, is transformed into a winter wonderland with cool lights and snowfall. There's some great stuff around the area now, including a bowling alley and nice restaurants. It's fun to make an evening out of it.
If you have kids, this place is super fun. It's basically The Haunted Mortuary turned into Santa's elaborate workshop. It's visually stunning what they do to the place, and the story they tell the children is clever. "The Big Guy" is also there for photo ops with the kids, if you want to go that route. It's easy for this place to get expensive though, first with the tickets … and then pictures, and of course, exiting with your kids through a gift shop filled with candy and Christmas trinkets. We've taken my step kids there for the past couple years and they adore it.
Many of the best restaurants in town will do a prix fixe menu for the month of December. It's fun to get dressed up, head out for a nice dinner, and let the chef take care of all the thinking. There's some more affordable reveillon menus out there, but it's usually a bit of a splurge, and totally worth it.
This is amazing. The first time I went to Celebration in the Oaks at City Park, I was blown away. The park is transformed, filled with light displays and Christmas attractions, like Mr. Bingle and "The Cajun Night Before Christmas". It's a fun place to take kids, or just to go on a date night and walk around enjoying the lights. I also have a strange love for putt putt golf, and City Park's "City Putt" is the best thing ever. So this year I'm planning on making this quite the event.
Happy December, y'all! I'm sure I'll cheer up in a few days. In truth, I think I might still be a little depressed from watching The Walking Dead on Sunday night. Hopefully the Christmas spirit will decide to make an appearance at my house … any minute now.
And then pretty soon it'll be 2015, WHAT?