Sweetness at the intersection of want & need

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Christmas has been difficult for me since my dad died in December, 2003, and it hasn’t helped that soon after, I moved to Southern California where I have exactly zero family. So a few years ago I finally stopped wallowing in my aloneness and started inviting people over for Christmas Eve as a way to make a new holiday with a tribal feeling. Of course it’s a busy time and not everyone can make it, but it’s always a good way to reconnect with neighbors and see how tall all the kids have grown. One year, my friend Valentin invited her church choir to come sing to my guests packed into my very small living room. It was a kind of Christmas magic that wouldn’t have happened had I been burying my face in a pint of coffee chip ice cream, which is always my first instinct.

For Christmas day, I always hand my daughter, Grace, over to her dad, whether it’s “my year” or not, because I want her to have a family Christmas with some of the loveliest people on the planet. Last Christmas I’d gotten stood up by the guy I was dating and had my own sulkfest in the theater. This year wasn’t looking too promising either. 

But get this. In September, guy I’d dated during the summer when I was 19 had resurfaced after 25 years and, surprise … turns out he lives less than 2 miles from me, a single dad with two teenage girls and a 3-year-old son. Unprompted, he asked to fill my dance card on Christmas Day, and pondered what it would take to get someone to make some fake snow fall in front of my window. It’s been simultaneously sweet and hilarious and mortifying to tell stories of our time together and to try to fill in the details about the time we didn’t know each other. It’s like forgetting about your favorite comfy sweater in the closet, then finding it and realizing it was even better than you remembered. We will be friends forever. 

As the Waitresses put it so well in their iconic Christmas song:

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed

Caught on to what was happening

That Christmas magic’s brought this tale

To a very happy ending!

My wish for you this year, no matter what your faith, is that you get what you want and what you need.

Vanessa McGradySweetness at the intersection of want & need

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