This Christmas

ddVckuVpRGyx7hp7gz2TZwEven 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.

IMG_7285So 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.

86 thoughts on “This Christmas

  1. Our church had a drive through Christmas light display this year. It was so fun! I will miss our traditional in person Christmas Eve service. Hopefully things will be some what back to normal by this time next year. Merry Christmas! 🎄⛪️🎁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I have to believe that they will be at least mostly normal by next Christmas…. But the vaccine should make a huge difference, I think. And how nice that your church did a drive through light display..that’s a great idea! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think we tend to take all our years of memories of Christmas and lump them all together as if they were all one Christmas. This makes Christmas seem more perfect, kind of like a dream Christmas. I am with you, Christmas is not a series of events or things that make it seem special, it is more of an attitude, a feeling or spirit. Sure, we can’t have a normal Christmas this year, but that just gives us incentive to make it more special with decorating, music, movies, phone calls, Skype calls and charity, both physical and emotional. It will be a great Christmas and we will all do our part to keep those we love safe. In the end, we will lump the memories into our Christmas collective which will become even more perfect. Stay well Ann and have a very Merry Christmas. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes we just do the best we can with what we have. And I agree that Christmas memories do all lump together, and that enjoying Christmas has much more to do with our attitude than it does anything specific that we do or don’t do. I hope you and your family have a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas, Allan!

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    • You are so right, on both counts! Christmas is a feeling in our hearts that can arrive well before December 25 and last much longer too. And yes, as for the stolen gift (and it had to be stolen by someone who worked for Fed Ex), I have learned not to ask “what else can go wrong?” Because this is the year we always find out!

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  3. You are right, we are all having a Covid Christmas in one way or another. I like that you are “choosing” to enjoy the season and make the most of it. Perhaps it will teach us that Christmas does not have to be perfect. I hope your cold is better and that you manage to endure the cold weather for the Christmas Eve service. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So far, I’ve not caught my annual Christmas cold, but I will. It’s one tradition I’d love to skip but haven’t succeeded so far! But you’re right, this year will teach us to let go of our expectations for a perfect Christmas and show us how to simply enjoy what we have. Merry Christmas to you and yours too!!!

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  4. Merry Christmas, Ann. With your great attitude, Christmas will be awesome as always. I, too, spend hours just sitting in the light of the glowing tree remembering all the previous trees, the wreaths, the gifts beautifully wrapped, the family gatherings…..and the food. YUM!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, sitting by the tree lights is one of the best parts of Christmas, I think. And one of the reasons I like the Christmas Eve service so much is that we sing “Silent Night” by candlelight only, and it’s just beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful holiday this year, Larry, and that all your good memories continue to warm your heart!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! It really is just one year out of many, and all we can do is make the best of it. I’m sure there will be parts that we truly enjoy, just as there are parts of usual celebrations we will miss. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Alan! We put up clear lights this summer, and then decided to add some colored Christmas lights for December. It really does look festive! And yes, the dreaded Christmas cold….I think brought on my too little sleep and the first really cold weather of the season. Hope you are over yours soon, and that you have a wonderful Christmas!!!

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  5. Thank you, Ann, for sharing your thoughts and feelings you have about this year’s Christmas! The lights you have used to decorate your house inside and outside are the symbol of the Light that reminds us of the love that has come from above. I am glad to hear that attending a candlelight service with social distancing is being planned weather permitting. I am publishing my last post tomorrow and then I will take a break from blogging until the New Year. Merry Christmas, Ann!

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    • Yes, no matter how dark things become this year, the true Light outshines it all and that’s so comforting to remember. My husband and I were talking tonight, and I think we are going to just bundle up and attend that service, as it means so much to both of us. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and your family, Peter!!!

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  6. A true and heartfelt post about what we are all experiencing. We will for the first time in 38 years not be having breakfast with my husband’s best friend since 6th grade. He and his wife are our sons’ Godparents and we exchange gifts on the 24th after breakfast. This year I’m dropping off their gifts on their front porch and we will FaceTime so that we can watch the gift opening and spend time together apart. It is a strange way to visit but I’m hoping it works well. I’m going to do what I find very difficult – I’m going to just let Christmas happen however it happens. Peace and Joy to you and yours this Christmas!!

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    • It will be different, and I’m glad that you’re being honest and admitting it might also be hard. I think it’s important that we acknowledge our feelings, and our losses, as we celebrate Christmas this year. Because that way, we can also move forward and are free to enjoy what we CAN do, and that’s so important. Even though you won’t be together physically, at least you’re still exchanging gifts and you’re still going to communicate via computer. And next year will be better…we just have to hang in there. Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

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  7. Well, after being sick for weeks, I avoided stores (and wasn’t up to ordering from Amazon beyond that one sure request). Folks are mostly getting $ (and socks and chocolate candies I’d bought already, thankfully). Husband just said he wants a Dr. Fauci doll, lol, so I’ll see what I can come up with.

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  8. The wonderful thing about Christmas is that the message never changes — no matter how we choose or are forced to change our celebrations. I hope your Christmas is wonderful — that you escape your cold, and enjoy the warmth of family and friends. Here’s to a better year for us all in 2021!

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    • Exactly! When we focus on the true meaning of Christmas, then we can celebrate it every single year, no matter what the circumstances. And I’m really hopeful that 2021 will be better in so many ways. Merry Christmas to you and your family too!!!

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  9. Ann, here’s to choosing to enjoy Christmas… in its very different form this year! The normal Christmas mishaps are all part and parcel of the occasion I feel. This year is exceptional and a positive spirit is needed! Locally homes have gone berserk with lights and it’s made things jollier! All my shopping has been online in November which felt odd but seemed to work. Tomorrow is the big day for us, much smaller than usual but will chat with the rest of the family during the day. Wishing you joy this Christmas… and one heck of a bash next year! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika! And yes, here’s hoping that next year is a Christmas blow out, as I think we can all use that. My husband and I had noticed the same thing: so many more lights than usual this year, and we just love it! Anything to spread cheer and joy in a time that could use huge helpings of both. Merry Christmas!

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    • Christmas movies are great, aren’t they? I’m planning to watch several over the next few days. And thank, I think I will enjoy Christmas very much this year. Merry Christmas to you too, Lorie!

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  10. Absolutely, Ann. The joy of Christmas can’t be cancelled, not really. It’ll certainly be different, and I’m sorry for what you’re missing out on, but I love how you’re taking the stance to choose to enjoy what you can regardless. That’s the best we can do. Like you, I tend to find the ideas of Christmas make the holidays a disappointment when reality hits, so I try to change my perspective and focus on what really matters… oodles of chocolate! 😉 Only joking (or am I?) I still feel a bit grinchy because things have been so hectic, so I hope you’re able to slow down, rest, relax & enjoy what you can.

    Wishing you & your family a very Merry Christmas 🎄
    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re not joking, chocolate is one of the great parts about Christmas. I still remember the first time a neighbor sent over a batch of Christmas fudge….one bite and I was hooked! This year will be different for sure, but it will still be fun. We just have to make the most of what we have. Wishing you a happy Christmas and a joyful New Year, Caz!

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  11. Hope you have a perfectly imperfect Christmas this year and all years after!
    Some of my family members have tended towards seeking perfection in what they do. When they gave up that as a goal, they seemed to be happier!

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    • That is so very true! This pandemic doesn’t have many silver linings, but it has a few. And one of them is that I’ve been forced to distinguish between what is important and what isn’t important. Because you’re right, giving up the quest for holiday perfection does make Christmas a whole lot happier!

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  12. Beautiful patio lights, Ann. I’m with you on the Christmas Eve candlelight service. That has always been special to me since my childhood, wherever I’ve wandered. I look forward to attending next year. I’ve thought a lot the last few days about what I won’t take for granted once this is all over (and it will be) and hope to keep some of the promises I’ve made to myself. Thank you for the encouragement to choose to have a positive thankful attitude about the season this year. I wish you a very peaceful and joyful Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brenda!! The Christmas Eve service was what I missed the most this year, and we ended up skipping the outdoor service because the temps were in the teens with wind chills even lower. But my sister sent me a link to her church’s service, and it was so well done that I felt as if I were there. And I agree, this year has shown me exactly what I value, and that’s a good lesson to learn. Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I definitely know what you mean about Christmas. I’ve definitely made the most of this Christmas, despite it not being on par with other years. I hope you had a lovely Christmas, despite everything. Take care and Happy Boxing Day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved this post! Christmas was certainly different for all of us this year…yet, all the things you mentioned matter. We can still keep Christ in Christmas. We can still enjoy the joy found in the quiet moments. I think this is the year that gratitude really takes center stage. It has nothing to do with perfection; it has to do with celebrating all the good in our lives. Things in the world may not be all good…but, God is always good. Wishing you blessings, and thank you for this wonderful post!

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    • Thanks so much, Linda! You’re right, all the important parts of Christmas are with us, always, no matter what the circumstances. Christmas this year was good, even if it was different. And in many ways it helped me discern was is truly important and what isn’t…. I hope you had a very merry Christmas and wish you a blessed new year!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wishing you a very Happy New Year! I managed to put up a New Year’s post yesterday…I had some restive days after Christmas which felt great! The weather has been cold and rainy…no snow where we live! I have so enjoyed seeing all these snowy scenes from everyone at Christmastime. I hope your husband is doing well…keeping him in my prayers. Wishing you blessings in 2021!

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        • Thank you for your prayers! He is doing very well, done with radiation and chemo, and pending a final scope, may not even have to have surgery. We are so grateful! Happy New Years to you too! And I just finished reading your New Year’s post and loved it!

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  15. Christmas was quiet this year, just our little household of four, but I decided to appreciate the total lack of stress. I didn’t have to use vacation days cleaning, shopping, cooking, and entertaining. I was even able to do a Christmas morning live Zoom yoga class! Talk about relaxed. My husband did almost all the shopping for everyone and I let him without trying in any way to control it. He enjoys it and even wrapped the gifts. The little shopping I did, I did local at small businesses and it was a joy to talk to the owners. While I hope next year we can gather, I hope to bring more peace and calm into it. I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

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    • Talk about “making lemonade out of lemons!” I think you and your family found a way to have a great Christmas, Kim. Sometimes, different is good and certainly less stressful. Like you, I’m hoping that I can gather with bigger groups next year (I always host a Christmas party for my humane society friends and it’s a lot of fun, so we missed that this year), but I also enjoyed the toned down version we had this year. In fact, there are a few permanent changes I’m planning to make from now on to make the holidays a bit less stressful! So glad you had a good Christmas, and it’s also so good to hear from you.

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  16. As so often happens you’ve summed up the way so many must be feeling at the moment.

    Setting a brilliant example to us all by choosing to have the best possible Christmas despite everything going on. Keep it up.

    Stay safe and stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

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