Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

Christmas was chaotic — as Christmas should be

By Steph Tahtinen Mt. Pleasant News

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

Tuesday night I started taking down my Christmas decorations. As I wrapped all my little figurines in old newspaper and packed them in the sturdy box my new glass Tupperware set had come in, I was thinking about how quickly the holiday had come and gone. I was also marveling at how quiet my apartment was. It was a big change from the last three days.

Friday my apartment experienced what I lovingly term the “Tahtinen invasion.” Rather than having me make the drive up to Wisconsin for only a couple of days, my parents decided to journey south for the holidays and spend Friday night through Tuesday morning in Mt. Pleasant. My older sister, who currently lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, also tagged along.

It was a family reunion of the sort that doesn’t happen often now that my sister and I are grown. The four of us under one roof again — it was just like old times.

The nostalgia of the situation was quickly shoved out the window by the chaos that ensued from all of us being under one roof again.

The more I thought about it, though, as I wrapped old newspaper around a ceramic Santa, the chaos was just like old times, too.

Spending time with family — whether at the holidays or not — is always an exhausting experience. And it’s not just my family, either, so I don’t feel like I’m insulting them by making this statement, and I hope they’re not offended by it. But family gatherings, almost as if by a rule, bring chaos. They even make movies on the topic.

Despite this fact, most people’s visions of Christmas revolve around something resembling a Norman Rockwell painting — the idealized Christmas. But this idealized Christmas is nothing but a myth. It’s a form of nostalgia for what Christmas “should be.” But it’s not realistic. The real Christmas is chaotic and imperfect. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sure, there were times I wanted to kick my houseguests out. I’m no longer used to living with three other people, so I was desperate for some peace and quiet. But in retrospect, these moments together are the memories you cherish. Taking multiple family pictures until we had one that satisfied us all. Reminding Mom, who is used to a gas stove, that my electric burner does not need to be turned up all the way, but that halfway will do. My sister hiding my new purple slipper boots — in my microwave — or singing her rendition of “I’ll have a blue Christmas if I don’t win…” during a particularly intense game of Trivial Pursuit. (For the record, I ended up winning).

When I went home for lunch on Tuesday, my apartment seemed desolate. The disarray of re-arranged furniture, a stripped bed and the faint aroma of the soup my sister had made for breakfast were the only signs that they had been there. I immediately missed them, even though I had just seen them 10 hours before.

And later, as I sat in my apartment, alone, putting tree ornaments in their boxes, I wished I had my family back in Iowa again. Even if just to help me take down the tree.