“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?”~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes
Right around Thanksgiving when the Christmas songs start playing sporadically on the radio and some stores even start to decorate for the holiday season, I immediately think BAH HUMBUG. I don’t know when I lost my love of gift buying for others and getting all caught up in the holiday hoopla and instead just wishing it was December 26. Maybe it was when my parents became snowbirds and spent Christmas in Florida instead of hosting a mega party on Christmas Eve. Maybe it was when I would think I bought the perfect gift only to have it thrown on a pile of all the other gifts with passing thanks. Maybe it was being a grown up and buying what I wanted whenever I wanted thus replacing the anticipation of receiving gifts once a year. All the decorations, food, drink, consumerism, materialism, loss of traditions—it was just too much.
But each year I recognize this tendency in myself and find ways to climb out of the Christmas abyss. Here are the top 3 things I did or will do to enjoy the holiday season:
BUY LOCAL: I wrote it about it last week in my blog. Supporting local artists and establishments gave me so much more pleasure than purchasing at the big box stores. I plan on supporting artists and procuring gifts through the year next year. My husband and I attend a lot of art and craft fairs and they are the perfect place to get gifts.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: We are hosting Christmas Eve and usually I think I have to decorate every corner and make piles of food. I decided to put up 2 basic trees and decorate my mantel – done. I ordered party trays from the local grocery store – done. I will make a few favorites, but combining them with store bought will make the day a lot easier. Attendees also offered to bring items and I gratefully took them up on it.
RELISH TIME WITH FAMILY: While it is a different experience than when I was a child, it is still a treasured time for me. My husband’s family and my brother and his family live in town, but we don’t get together all that often. Everyone is busy with their own lives the rest of the year, but Christmas is a time when we get together and reconnect.
Looking ahead to Christmas 2016, here are the top 3 things I plan to do to generate merriment:
HAND CRAFT GIFTS: Last year I painted pictures for some members of my family, and they really loved it. However, I didn’t plan it well and was doing about 3 paintings at one time. For 2016 I plan to paint (or heck, maybe start a new hobby) throughout the year so by this time next year I will be armed with homemade gifts for all.
LET SOMEONE ELSE HOST: My sister-in-law already offered to have Christmas Eve next year, so I will happily bring whatever is asked of me and show up on the doorstep armed with chow, libations and gifts.
STILL RELISH TIME WITH FAMILY: To me it is the most important part of the holiday, as I don’t spend much time with them during the year. It is more important than decorations, songs, or gifts. The gift is sharing time with the people I love. Maybe I will even get my parents to come north for Christmas next year.
When this Christmas is over I will have turned my frown upside down. I will wear that smile for a while remembering the good times had by all. Perhaps next year when the first notes of “White Christmas” ring out I will still have that smile on my face. I will be looking forward to time with family at someone else’s house with gifts made and ready to give. I will leave you with the words from someone else who not only had a frown to deal with but a very small heart…
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!