Christmas is a few days away and by this time my house usually looks like an advertisement for Santa’s workshop or the North Pole edition of a home decorating magazine. Some people dread Christmas. I’m not one of them, although I have to admit I’m not as “spirited” this year.
For me Christmas changed when children grew up and moved away. Unless you have grandchildren, the excitement just isn’t there anymore. I have cute grandcats and in the past I’ve had cuddly grandogs as well. But pets don’t want to make cookies or wrap packages or go out to see Christmas light displays. They don’t bug you to open “just one present” on Christmas eve.
When my children were little, they absolutely glowed as Christmas neared. What will Santa bring? Who will come for Christmas dinner? Will there be live animals in the Nativity scene at church Christmas Eve?
Choosing a tree was always a major production. We’d drive to a live tree lot where one can tromp around for hours looking for the perfect specimen. A visit to several other tree lots would follow because the children knew what they wanted and the parents knew their choice would not fit in the house.
Those days are in the past now.
This year, I did not bring out all the décor on December first. I managed to dig out the twelve-inch Santas, set out a few candles, and hung ancient stockings that our parents made for my husband and I. They were more than a bit tattered, but our fancy ones went to my daughter’s house where we’ll spend Christmas morning.
I took down some pictures and put up a stuffed Rudolph head, a series of three painted wooden holiday cutouts, a Scrooge, a framed picture of my kids at various ages and poses at Christmas time, and a wreath my late sister made. My dining room is a bit subdued this year with only red placemats and napkins and a cloth Christmas tree for the table. No poinsettias or flower arrangements. No village on the sideboard.
We have a fake tree that goes up in three stages. Easier to handle now that it takes two of us to wrestle the three heavy pieces of the tree into the house and get them placed. The tree decorations are a little sparser but they look nice.
There will no longer be large family dinners in this house. Last year our extended family met for Christmas via zoom. This year my daughter, who lives across town, is cooking. No zoom because my son and his wife will be in Germany and Italy for the holidays.
Life moves on and lives change, certainly life has changed for almost all of us these past few years. But when I hang the colored lights and cover the tree with special ornaments—some made by my children when they were small—wonderful memories crowd out any sadness I might feel.
Maybe next year I’ll get out the Christmas china and put up my village and my snow globe collection and maybe even bake a cookie or two while drinking from the Christmas mugs I have not unpacked this year.
I don’t dread Christmas. I love it. It’s just taking a little longer to realize the Christmases I once loved are gone and it’s time to let go.
There are new traditions waiting to be discovered. All I need to do is open my heart just a little wider.
How about you? In the spirit or not quite there?
You can find me here: