Christmas 2015 is technically over. Here in the northeast it was unseasonably warm. Christmas morning my husband and I took our coffee out on the front porch to sip and wait for the rest of the family to wake up.
Besides the neighbors waving greetings as they stood in short sleeves watching children ride new bicycles. We saw a December in New York miracle. The pink bloom of a geranium sitting confused in a planter. You might say, it didn’t feel like Christmas.
Oh we have lights on the tree and mantle. My beloved Aunt Jess’ crocheted snowman and snowwife displayed, along with Santa, a small decorative rocking horse and those treasurers passed down the generations that have no monetary value, but priceless memories. You know, the really important things of the holiday.
Then a memory tugged at my heart. I can remember decorating the tree alone. I was probably nine years old. Carols were playing as I unpacked decorations, and delighted in the discovery of silver and gold babbles to shimmer on the tree. My mom was in the kitchen, and I called to her, asking if she’d like to help me. A few minutes passed when she came into the living room. Drying her hands on a dishtowel. She looked tired, but she smiled and said no, I was doing a great job, but she didn’t really want to decorate the tree.
I was shocked. Really? Why not? She said she guess she was just tired of Christmas. At the time I simply could not understand it. But over the years I realized Christmas was extremely stressful for her. Not only to think about her own kids, family, extended family, the meals, the cookie bakes and gift wrapping parties so many of her friends counted on her to host. But she also had to contend with my father’s family, who it seemed were never satisfied, who you could spend hours deciding on a perfect gift, that when opened they barely looked at it. When you try over and over again to please someone who refuses to find joy in anything, it wears you out. I think she was tired of Christmas, because it did not feel like Christmas.
I ached for my mother, but I found lessons within that less than happy memory. You can’t let someone else have control over your Christmas feeling.
This year at our home, we had a simple celebration. There was not as many presents under the tree, or small treasures stuffed in stockings. The tree held lights yes, but not as many ornaments – it was short and round and stood proudly on a table up away from our dogs, who would help themselves to a pine flavored drink. It was 66 degrees all Christmas Day. But it did indeed feel like Christmas.
It felt like it because we wanted it to. If felt like it because our little family was together, we’re healthy, we found small surprises and big joys. Not from what was in the boxes, but what was in our hearts.
That is where you feel Christmas.
Not in a department store, on sale, or in line. You really do find it within yourself. The Grinch was right! But there are times, it’s not going to feel like Christmas, and that’s what life throws at you sometimes, it will feel like something else. I ask you not to beat yourself up for it, or drag others down. Be kind to yourself. You might even wish to try something that always makes me feel good. Write. Pick up a pen, boot up your laptop, find a cozy spot and write. Write through the hardships, write through the pain, write about all the memories and moments you could do without, or those you wish to cherish. Write without caring about spelling or grammar – write for the joy of writing. I bet you have a story or two or a thousand you want to remember for years to come. To share with loved ones, or document for yourself. Both equally important and of value.
So this year if it really didn’t feel like Christmas, well, it just didn’t. If it did, that’s great. It did for me Christmas morning and I hugged it, and I hope you felt it too.
May 2016 bring you good health, a full belly, a walk, a roof over your head, warm feet, laughter – which is the bestest medicine. May you be kind to yourself and those who matter to you. And may you carve out a time each day to write and explore, think and practice, play and dare to be who you can be.
Breathe Deep, Think Peace