Even though I love Christmas, there’s always something about December that makes me feel a little sad. The shorter days and longer nights we experience this time of year don’t help, but the biggest problem is probably the way I tend to build Christmas up in my head and the fact that the reality of Christmas rarely lives up to my expectations. (I guess Chuck Griswold and I have something in common besides our love for over-the-top holiday lighting.)
I tend to anticipate the perfect Christmas with a huge assortment of delicious cookies and other fabulous food, a perfectly-decorated tree surrounded by a pile of presents that are “just right” for the person who is going to open them, and most of all, lots of fun and relaxing time with my friends and family. And while the Christmas I get is always pretty darned good, there are also lots of little snags along the way: burnt cookies, the arrival of my annual Christmas cold, trying to coordinate a schedule for our get-togethers that works for everyone, and discovering that the perfect present I wanted to buy for someone special is on back-order until Spring.
And that’s the reality of a normal Christmas. This year, we’ll be celebrating a Covid Christmas, which means I won’t be able to attend my beloved Christmas Eve candlelight service, or host the usual big gatherings of my friends and family. My in-person Christmas shopping has been minimal, and the delivery of the gifts I ordered online has been spotty, to say the least. (We opened one box to find only the shredded packaging of the gift we had ordered. Someone is going to be on Santa’s naughty list for that one!) All of which is to say that this year, it’s been a little harder than usual to maintain my Christmas cheer.
And yet….Christmas is still my favorite holiday and I have no intention of giving it a miss this year. Yes, we are still struggling with a pandemic that has dragged on far too long, and we are so very tired of it. The days are short and cold, and Winter is just beginning. Celebrating the holiday in many of my favorite ways is out of the question, sadly. But none of that has managed to stop Christmas from coming, and whether or not I enjoy this Christmas is a decision that is mine alone to make.
So I’m choosing to enjoy it. I’m choosing to give the people I love my imperfect gifts, and just have those gift receipts handy if they need to exchange them. I’m choosing to spend my dark December evenings basking in the glow of my Christmas tree, or when it’s warm enough, sitting outside enjoying the colored lights we strung around our patio. I’m baking extra cookies this year and plan to leave them on the porches of the neighbors and friends I can’t invite over. I’ve discovered that a local church is having an outside (socially distanced and masked) Christmas Eve candlelight service that I might attend if I decide to brave the predicted cold temperatures. And if not, there are plenty of services I can view online.
Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it. And to absolutely everyone: wishing you much joy, peace and happiness, now and in the year ahead.