Here we are, it’s the first day of December. December has officially arrived. The holiday season is in full swing. Hanukkah has begun, the menorah has been lit. Every radio station playing Christmas carols, some playing them 24/7. Twinkle lights twinkle at every turn. An Elf on every shelf… thank god I missed this “tradition”. Advent calendars starting their Christmas Eve countdown. Christmas trees popping up on every social media feed, along with the ever present and ever so popular question “So… got all your Christmas shopping done?” or my all time favorite “Don’t you just love Christmas?!?!”. What never ceases to amaze me is those who declare their love of Christmas and the holidays are the same people that have a panic attack wondering if their Mother in Law will complain about the Turkey or their Mother will once again voice her concern over their daughter wearing black eyeliner.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched and listened to many I hold dear. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes, the panic in their voice, all over the holidays, over getting all the gifts just right and the opinions and reactions of their families. When I’m asked about my plans, I usually just get a blank stare followed with “I wish I could do that.”. What are my plans you ask? A quiet night with my parents, my hubby and daughter on Christmas Eve. A quiet lunch with my Mother in Law on Christmas Day. Am I done my shopping? I don’t know. Yup, you read that correctly, I don’t know. I always buy my Mother in Law some of her favorite creams, candles etc…, they make her happy. I buy for my daughter, because I enjoy surprising her. That’s about it. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts, on Christmas. We surprise each other during the year, some years more than others. I’ll put together little things I’ve found throughout the year to brighten a friend’s day.
Before you stop reading, or shout out your screen “Easy for you! You don’t have a huge family!” or “Easy to say when you don’t have 6 kids!” or “Everyone in your family is healthy!”, you are all correct. It is easy for me, it wasn’t always. I used to knock myself out trying to create the picture perfect holiday season. Yes, the season, not just a day or two, the whole goddamn month. I Martha Stewarted and Norman Rockwelled the shit out of the holidays. I’m tired just thinking about it. I was trying so hard to achieve the holiday I thought I should be having, not the holiday I wanted to have. Being as stubborn as I once was, and still am, in 2009, the powers that be, the Universe, God, the Smurfs, your choice, decided it was time for me to slow down and ease up, so my body grew a fibroid, a big one,(no cancer) and the surgery date was slotted for December 4th. You can’t deck the halls when you have a 10 inch scar across your stomach. So there I was, forced to slow down and guess what? The ground didn’t open up and swallow me whole. Who knew a hysterectomy for Christmas would be one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
The point to my holiday/medical rambling you ask? Let’s go to Oxford Dictionary for a moment. Holiday – noun; a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done. … see, the dictionary gets it, it’s time we do too.
We cannot control everything, trust me, I’ve tried. We can’t. We can’t control how Aunt Ida keeps giving you a hand knit sweater 3 sizes too big and demands you model it even though she’s reminded every year of your size and that you are allergic to wool. We can’t control how Mothers and Mother in Laws are “fine” with alternating Christmas dinners. We can’t control the opinion that our kids eat too much junk by the very people who fill a stocking full of chocolate and treats and give them to said children. Sorry Virginia, in the case of controlling your family, friends and all aspects of your holiday experience, there is no Santa Claus. We can, however, control ourselves, our reactions, our personal traditions. I don’t see all my family on Christmas Day anymore. I deliver cookies before Christmas and have a visit. We see my parents on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we share a meal, sometimes hor d’oeuvres. Sometimes we exchange gifts, sometimes we exchange memories and good conversation. We still have to travel on Christmas Day to see family, but now we decide the time. Too many snow squalled drive homes in the dark changed that. We now go for lunch. We see our family, we eat a meal together, watch my Mother in Law and daughter open gifts, have a nice visit and are home by 4 p.m.. Meeting halfway is better than not meeting at all.
Christmas presence, be it for the day or for an hour, is better than any Christmas presents you can buy.