Happy Friday – I hope all my American friends had a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving yesterday. Our celebration was lovely. There was good food, good company and lots of laughter. Really, I have so much to be grateful for.
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving besides all that I just mentioned is that it’s the kickoff of the holiday season! It’s true; while so many of my friends are groaning about the holiday music and displays being out so early, I’ve had my tree up since before Thanksgiving and my boys and I have been playing Christmas music since the beginning of November. You see (and here’s my official confession): I am a Christmas junkie. I love it. I love all of it, too, from the gorgeous downtown displays to the garishly overdone houses. It’s the one time of the year that truly feels like a holiday to me, and a time when everyone is celebrating together.
But it hasn’t always been this way for me. In fact, there were a couple of years that I decided to just skip Christmas. No tree, no cards, no parties. I wanted none of it. It was a transition time. A time after the childhood magic of Christmas had worn off and the years of new Christmas “responsibilities” had started sucking all the joy out of it. Instead of seeing Christmas lights as twinkling stars in a winter wonderland, they became a burdensome chore requiring multiple trips to the hardware store for replacement bulbs and extension cords. Gifting, rather than being the heartwarming act of surprising my loved ones, became an absolute nightmare. My budget was shot for the next few months as I overspent and tried to match everyone who gifted me. Even worse were the expectations for gifts that sucked all the fun out of it. Add that to the stresses already present in the holiday season and in everyday life, there was no joy in Christmas anymore.
And so, I took off for a couple of years.
After having some time off, though, my attitude began to change. Since I had already done “Zero Christmas”, there were no longer expectations for me the next year. That meant if I put of one string of Christmas lights, it would be more than what I had done before. If I hung up a garland or two, I was doing it because I wanted to, not because I was forced to. And I began to realize that somewhere along the way, between the lights and the cookies and the cards and the decorations that the whole purpose of the holiday had been lost for me. All I had to do to bring it back was to participate in the season with my heart.
Instead of dreading the wrapping session, I began to think of creative ways to wrap and look forward to it. It became fun. Instead of the long chore of writing out Christmas cards, I decided to call my friends both near and distant. Rather than putting up the tree on the “appropriate date” only to take it down a couple of weeks later, I started putting it up early, so that I could enjoy the fruits of my labor longer. If I put them up in November, by the time the Christmas season started, I was already ahead of the game and not trying to fit an incredible amount of work into the four busiest weeks of the year.
As it turned out, I loved Christmas after all!
The arrival of my children took my love for the holiday to an even higher level as our holidays shifted from being adult-oriented to children-centric. Gone were the cocktail parties and nights on the town, but instead I re-experienced the excitement and anticipation for the beautifully wrapped gifts; the wonder at seeing Santa Claus in the Christmas parade, and the enchanted sparkling lights that make even the darkest rooms shine.
Christmas is a much-loved holiday here. My children pick up on my happiness and listen to me hum Christmas carols as I deck the halls. And if it ever starts to feel like too much work and not enough holiday, I will take a step back and remember that Christmas only has to be what I allow it to be. Some years I have more to give, some years I have less. But as long as I stop at my limit, the holidays can retain their celebration for me. And even though I express my holiday spirit with decorations and baking, I know that none of that needs to be present to have the Christmas Spirit.
And so, I am off to hang some boughs of holly.
Tis the season!
~ Mellie ★