The day after Thanksgiving is no day for shopping, it’s the day Christmas starts. Turn up the Christmas music, buy a tree, bake some cookies, find lights that work, hang up decorations. I am that annoying fan of Christmas. When the Halloween decorations disappear on Nov. 1 and the Christmas trees spring up, I ignore them. If carols jingle out before the bird’s been stuffed, I do not hum along merrily. Halls are not decked, stockings are not hung - at least not by me, until Thanksgiving is over.
Christmas is a close second on my list of favorite holidays. My birthday tops it - it’s my day and that can’t be trumped (duh). I love Christmas. I love the lights, the smells, the festiveness of it all. I love making gifts - from the HEART with my hands. I love finding that perfect something for that impossible person to shop for after weeks of fretting and failing (it’s usually socks, i really believe socks are a fabulous gift). I take pleasure in programming that easy listening station on my car radio so John Tesh, Delilah & every Christmas song I know and love (& sometimes hate) zoom through town with me. Each year, at least once, I sit in the room with the tree, when it’s dark the only light is coming off of that tree (always only white lights) and I stare at it until my eyes cross and my vision blurs and the tree glows like that star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem.
Thanksgiving was two weeks ago and I don’t feel Christmas. The reminders are all around. A Santa piñata hangs from a store between my house & my brother’s and every time we pass it, Sydney points and squeals. There’s other stuff, lights & poinsettias, this is a festive place … but it’s not the same.
I’ve been so sideways with life that I’ve managed to forget Christmas. Syd had her surgery, wedding season started, I learned some Spanish (intensively - it’s a thing), Thanksgiving happened, we moved, my sister visited, whales started migrating. It’s been a lot - all good - just a lot. I thrive with routine & order and that list of recent happenings were unusual. I know forsaking the American dream to move here is also unusual. But forgetting Christmas? That feels like a deviation of who I am. I let the inundation of unusual rob me of my number two favorite holiday. In this season of light, I’ve gone dark.
The night before last, I got a verbal lashing from my sister. She called me out for being a shit to my mom (I have been), letting the little things get to me (they have been) and for losing perspective (I have! I have!). When our called dropped, as all inevitably do down here, I was relieved because I didn’t want to hear it any more. She called back and instead of spewing out defenses, I listened. I agreed. I reflected. Then I felt my heart grow three sizes.
With the sand in my toes and palm trees over head, it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Now I recognize the holiday is more that frosted Evergreens and chestnuts roasting (insert your favorite cliche here). It’s called the season of giving, right? But that’s not completely because of tangible gifts.
I think it’s about giving your best self to those around you. I’m fortunate to have great friends, new & old. I’m so damn lucky to be close, physically to some and emotionally with all of my family. It’s time to celebrate that! I want to relish in their company and appreciate their place in my life.
Thankfully, I haven’t missed Christmas this year. But if I’m going to really experience it, I need to be present. And I don’t even need wrapping paper for that.