Christmas and I have run hot and cold over the years. By this I mean the whole Christmassy part of the holiday. My own religious affiliations and beliefs aside, the season has run the gamut from being super exciting to being nothing more than a huge anxiety attack. From fun seasonal crafts (c’mon, making Christmas crackers can be fun!), to getting what some might call interesting gifts (don’t ever give your wife the gift of utility shoes, trust me), Christmases have been a personal symphony of good and bad.
However, the last couple of Christmases have been different. I experienced an epiphany: starting with my daughter becoming more interested in Christmas, bolstered by my partner Adam’s personal faith and love of the season, and seriously questioned after the death of my mother just 10 days before Christmas in 2009.
In one catastrophic blow, my step-father lost his best friend and wife, my siblings and I lost the woman we were closest with, and the grandchildren lost their beloved Nana. Continuing to make nice and keeping Christmas for the kids, we adults realized that we were not interested in celebrating without my Mom. We decided to hold our own Christmas over until June of the next year since none of us could handle being holly-jolly without her.
So we got through Christmas. And the rest of the month. And then New Year’s Eve came and went. We found that after spring passed, in the middle of summer, we were looking forward to the event we forfeited six months before. Although, and perhaps maybe because of, the deep mourning we were still in, we craved to be together as much as we could. A summer Christmas was simply another reason to do just that.
It was then that I realized something very important. Although I loved being with my family, I hate Christmas in the summer! Okay sure, I know people who celebrate their Christmas in the summer, and good for them. But I need snow, and cold, and frost, and the threat of a storm that could make driving difficult, in order to truly appreciate the whole Christmas package.
I love the smell of an evergreen wreath in the house (although I must admit to deeply appreciating the fake tree with the built in lights we bought last year). I like seeing the presents under the tree and tree lights twinkling in the windows of the houses as we drive down quiet, snowy streets. I like the crunch of snow under my boots and I have rediscovered how much fun it is to go tobogganing on Boxing Day. I even realized that I don’t hate the crazed-out shoppers and the bad drivers and everything that the holiday season could entail. And, in liking it all I remembered something else – my Mom did too. She adored the decorating and the shopping and having family dinner. She would light up when we walked through the door at Christmas-time. She had an extensive collection of Christmas bric-a-brac, and brought the whole lot out each year.
My love for Christmas always there, clearly inherited, just hidden. Getting lost in the hustle and the bustle of what it is to live in the twenty-first century. Sadly, I didn’t realize it until the person responsible for my true love of Christmas was no longer able to enjoy it with me.
Although it is unlikely that I will ever become one of those folks that are gonzo with the Christmas experience, I will certainly take the time to enjoy it a little more. I will revel in the opportunity of family being together. I will also make a better effort to give to others less fortunate than I. Perhaps helping them realize Christmas is great not because of what you get, but because of who you are with. Having seen the worst, I truly understand the best. For me the best is family, friends, and snow. Lots and lots of snow. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!