Our Christmas tree is very small this year. I found it at the Trader Joe’s Tree Lot in Haight-Ashbury. We’d just arrived in San Francisco from Thailand and it was my first encounter with real Christmas fare. I got butterflies in my stomach and immediately began dreaming of Nancy’s homemade eggnog. Some of my most fond Christmas memories are of Nancy’s tree-decorating parties and her super yummy eggnog.
So I bought the tree for $3.99 and brought it back to our little apartment in the Haight.
This year our Christmas is small and simple. We decided not to do physical gifts. We have everything we want and need. We have each other, we have our love, we have our little life we’re building together. We just don’t want or need anything else. It’s weird and comforting all at the same time to have reached a place like this. We really, truly don’t have anything to put on our Christmas lists this year. All we want is authenticity, memories, and each other.
Don’t get me wrong. I love gifts. It’s my love language. But the definition of “gifts” has grown and changed this year. It’s burgeoning to encapsulate the idea of giving and sharing an experience. The most valuable thing in our lives is time together. It’s a rare and precious resource. And without it, we get cranky and defensive and stressed. So why not give ourselves, literally, the most valuable commodity we can think of? It’s easy to believe there’s no time. But then you discover a secret: time is there; you just have to decide to take it.
So instead of doing the crazy travel thing again for Christmas (as if four months of travel isn’t already excessive), we flew into Oregon. We gave ourselves the gift of dinner at Bollywood Theater and desert at Salt & Straw with our two most precious friends in the world, McKenzie & Tiffany (also a rare commodity — we haven’t seen them in two long years). And then we drove out to Cannon Beach for the week. Here we are. Uninterrupted days in front of the fire. Drinking hot cocoa. Giggling that our one ornament is one-third the size of our Christmas tree (it looks a little like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree now). And a stack of books to read (of course we had to visit Powell’s first).
The best part about Cannon Beach is the lack of cell phone coverage. It means we get to cuddle more. Disconnect. Unplug. And live our life as if it were 1999 all over again — which was the year I lived in Cannon Beach. Back then, cell coverage and WiFi weren’t basic necessities yet. And it’s fun to relive a time when disconnecting from the outside world was normal. The best present I could possibly give Justin is also the best present I could possibly receive from him. Quiet, focused, uninterrupted time with each other.
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