This coming Friday, I’m celebrating Yule with friends (they throw a big party.) I’m hoping to make it up for dawn on the Saturday, before finishing my holiday shopping. On the 23rd, I’m on a plane to visit family.
My mother lives in the Boston area (my father died when I was in high school). From there, we’re going down to New Haven, to spend Christmas with my brother, sister in law, and my nieces who are 3.5 and 5.5 (and adorably cute.) I’m looking forward to it, but there are also parts of it that I’m a little nervous about.
See, this is the first time I’ll have been out there for Christmas. Last year, my mother and I were together on Christmas, but we were travelling (a river boat group on the Danube, visiting Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest: Mom was born in Vienna, and a number of our ancestors were Hungarian before that.) Mom went off to Midnight Mass with other people from the boat, I went to sleep.
In years I’ve been out to Boston, I’ve flown on Christmas Day, which has had the advantage of being relatively cheap, and of avoiding trying to do religious coordination. This year, the scheduling made that complicated if I wanted to see my brother and his family, so I’m flying earlier. My family know I’m a witch, and that I am no longer Christian, and that Wiccan is a good first-approximation term for me. They’ve been far better about it, all in all, than I’d ever anticipated: we have sensible, thoughtful conversations in which they listen and ask questions they’ve clearly been thinking about.
Some of this is just about travel. I do a morning daily devotional that doesn’t require much stuff – but that I know will be slightly complicated sleeping in the loft space at my brother’s. That’s relatively simple: they’re deliberately designed to not require a lot of ‘stuff’. I pack a small travel altar (mostly jewelry pieces that do double duty if I need to put on my priestess hat, as it were.) and I’m usually fine.
But there’s also always the question of navigating church services, and of moving from the family traditions of my childhood to those of my brother’s family. This year has been full of transitional and liminal times for me: one more is certainly manageable. It’s just also a little unsettling, in the way that most often leads to growth for me.
I will not only manage but have a fantastic time, I’m sure. It’s just a question of what’s going to happen and how.