Every year I am surprised by myself at the holidays because you might not know this but I have a pretty strong cynical side, but every year I am like a crazy-christmas-sweater-wearin'-popcorn-ball-makin'-carol-singin' little elf. I can't help but be over-cometh with holiday cheer. I know that the holidays aren't an easy time for everybody. I know that the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year for many. I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas and truth be told Christmas is in no way religiously aligned for me. To me it's all about letting go of normal routines and relishing in the act of tradition, and generally just being in a state of mind of giving and enjoying life. It seems everywhere you turn at this time of year there is something pretty to look at - like the (other) song goes "even the streetlights blink a bright red and green." It's a state of mind of being jolly and maybe because of the cynic in me I just have to be all in.
I've been meh about Christmas plenty of times. I have lamented about how other holidays are marginalized by this predominately "christian" one and how those of us who don't celebrate the religious aspect are all sheep with blinders on being herded towards idolizing consumerism - money being the one and true almighty. But as I got older, really after my grandparents passed away and I had kids of my own, I realized so many of my happiest memories were of this time of year. So I now I just put my critical thinking cap on the shelf, next to my elf, at this time of year.
When I was little I waited all the first half of the school year for Christmas break and I'd hightail it over to my (maternal) grandparents and we'd flit and flitter from one holiday tradition to the next. We'd go to buy presents, we'd cut down a tree, we'd trim the tree, we'd bake pies and make ginger bread houses, we'd get hot chocolates and drive around looking at christmas lights, and we'd wrap lots of presents with string and ribbon. They'd curl up with me on the sofa (or recliner chair), their excitement of turning the television on to the Rudolf or Frosty the Snowman special waiting to see my eyes light up and here me squeal. I mean even then I knew they found joy in my joy. They genuinely loved to see me happy. Christmas eve I always got a pair of pajamas and one other little present and I would get tucked into bed and my grandpa would turn the heat up real high so that it made clanking noises in the ceiling and tell me "oh, i think i hear santa's reindeer on the roof. you better go to sleep. quick close your eyes!" and I knew it was just the heater but I played along because the thought of him knowing I knew it was just the heater was enough to make my heart break. I never wanted to spoil a moment they gave me because each one was crafted with the purest of love, and even so young I could spot that anticipation in their eyes, waiting for my reaction. Christmas morning I'd wake to guess jeans and esprit bags and roller skates and boom boxes that would help me squeak by the rest of the school year not feeling totally an outsider in my 'regular' life.
So now that they are gone, now that my little M+L are here and have never had the good fortune to know them or be tucked in by them or wake to them on Christmas morning I simply channel them. I find joy in my children's joy because there is truly nothing more joyful when you are a parent. I totally get that now. We flit and flitter through the month of December and I crank up the heater on Christmas eve and ask them if they can hear santa's reindeer on the roof. It's taken me along time to admit this openly, but I frickin' love Christmas. And it's almost here! (and it's almost over too, which is also kind of nice.). Do you have any favorite Christmas memories and traditions? Or those of you who aren't celebrating Christmas, do you have any non-"christmas" traditions at this time of year?
Have a happy weekend!
Have a happy weekend!