This should be the time of year that good times, good food, and good movies bring us all together. It will be Christmas in a few weeks, the babe will be born, angels will sing, and a little boy will drum a song for the new born king, giving the babe’s mother a headache.
Some of us decorate for the holidays. Some go overboard (I love to visit those houses!) Some barely put a string of lights up in the window. This winter, with my husband’s recent shoulder surgery, we managed to put our Santa collection and singing pieces of coal around for festive interactions. That’s about it.
There’s always the other side of the Christmas season, though. Family members seem to get sicker this time of year; sons and daughters are celebrating a thousand miles away from home, people are losing their jobs, houses, and self esteem. These things happen all year around, of course, but with sacred and melancholy music pouring out of every musical pore, these tragedies seem more obvious during these last three weeks of the year.
It seems we are always being tested this time of the year, too. On a diet? Try passing up the Christmas strudel and homemade Snickerdoodles. When the song White Christmas blares from the TV, it reminds you that you haven’t seen your grandma or your dad in ages. Buying all your presents online, filling your carts with gift cards instead of things hand picked for that person may rattle your guilt cart a little, too.
Christmas season is becoming more stressful in brand new ways. Families used to worry about not having enough food on the table. These days people worry that they won’t be able to replicate the Venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato, with sugar–free syrup, extra shot, light ice, no whip that your mother-in-law gets at Starbucks all the time.
Christmas provides a neutral ground to start all over again. You could always pencil in a lunch date or a trip to the zoo to go with that gift card, or find the recipe for that intricate coffee drink and include it in your package. It’s never to late to make all kinds of calls on Christmas Day, even if they only last for two minutes a piece.
All kidding aside, everyone doesn’t need to be bubbly happy during the Christmas holidays. Some people have to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some are in the hospital and can’t come over for dinner, others are in rehab and won’t make it for Christmas Eve punch. Some will be missing the ones who made the holiday special, and some will have a migraine from stress and not be able to appreciate all the effort you put into your holiday lights.
Christmas is a special day, but every day should be a special day in your life. We can’t go backwards; we can’t go back to simpler times (which they weren’t), or find the same sacredness that kept the people enthralled three hundred years ago.
I’m dealing with a bunch of stress and garbage this holiday season myself — I almost bah-humbugged putting up lights, nor wanted to listen to “Its The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” or watch Christmas Vacation.
But I did, and am a better person for it.
Life will go on — Christmas celebrations will go on — whether I choose to join them or not. And who knows whose heart I might touch in a special way with just a word or a laugh or a story if I venture out to see family and friends? Who knows which little kid will hold close my compliment on their clothes or toys or their ability to sing all of Jingle Bells?
Remember. Christmas is not always about you.