I was looking forward to celebrating a more simple Christmas without the hustle and bustle of commercialism, but as it draws near, I am having a hard time figuring out how to make it special. We can’t bake cookies, decorate a tree, spend time with family and friends, or cook up a big, fancy dinner. We didn’t buy the kids any gifts before we left the states. We don’t even have any Christmas music or decorations. And for this Alaskan girl, it never really seems like Christmas without snow.
Matt manages to find a dinosaur coloring book and pencils for Graysen, and a stuffed frog for Rylan in town while he is buying groceries. I notice that we have a red and a green box of wine from Trader Joe’s. So the kids help me cut two trees out of the green box and a sleigh with reindeer out of the red box. We use aluminum foil to make stars.
I have been thinking we could use sticks to make a tree, but they are in short supply in the desert. Graysen and Rylan show up at the door of the trailer with two sticks. I send them out to find more, and somehow they come back with a perfect branch. I put them in a quart jar and fill it up with white rocks from the beach.
Matt’s mom and dad sent us a packages when we were in Willits for Thanksgiving. At the time it seemed like a burden. So much stuff! But Matt’s mom sent us some chocolate ornaments. We pulled them out and decorated the tree. It was beautiful. And there were presents for the kids as well.
On Christmas Eve, after a dinner of grilled pizzas, we set the tree on the stove, for lack of a better place. We put candles around it and set out a plate of store-bought cookies and leftover pizza for Santa. We think he might be hungry after traveling all the way to Mexico.
Christmas morning brings the most brilliant red sunrise. Matt makes coffee outside and then we all pile into our bed to open presents. It doesn’t take long, but the kids are stoked with their new toys and coloring books. Matt sets up the blanket outside and they play duplos outside for hours.
Matt and Rylan fly kites in the brisk wind. At some point, Rylan lets go of both kites at once and they fly down the beach. I run after them, laughing. One gets caught on a scrubby bush and the other falls into some shallow water in the estuary. I retrieve them and put them back in the air.
Later we take the paddle board over to the next bay to play and explore. I take Rylan out on the board and then Graysen. The family camped out down the way comes over to say hello, and we chat until Graysen falls in the water and gets cold.
For dinner we have grilled chicken with mashed potatoes. We open a bottle of fine Mexican wine. I make chocolate mousse for dessert. We watch a new video together from Santa and go to bed, happy and content. We miss our family and friends, but somehow this is exactly the relaxed Christmas we needed after months of travel.