Now that Christmas is over, perhaps you’re willing to hear snippets of three unforgettable Christmases I’ve shared with my family.
December 1975: My daughter’s birth was expected in mid-December. That meant, as a mother of a three-year-old son, that everything had to be done ahead of time — before December 1, in case she arrived early. I wanted to make sure Son had a good Christmas even though his world was about to be turned upside down. When December arrived we had only fun stuff to do — those things we never had time for in previous years. We made Advent cookies, after I read about them in a Christmas magazine. Son got to eat one cookie every day — often for breakfast — all the way til Christmas. That was the beginning of a family tradition that lasted 25 years and expanded to include all of my young children’s friends.
December 1993 or 1994 or 1995: I don’t remember the exact year. Our Christmas was planned for December 26. I spent all day thinking about my college age children, preparing their favorite foods for an appetizer supper, and awaiting their arrival when darkness fell. A fire blazed in the stone fireplace, Christmas carols filled the silence, and the table was spread. The anticipation was magical. The door opened and there they stood on the front porch with flakes of the first snow sticking to their hair and coats. We ate. We visited. We ate some more. I finally asked when they wanted to open gifts — tonight or in the morning. As best I can remember, it was my daughter who said, “The gifts aren’t what’s really important.” And she was right. That’s not why we were together — and we all knew it. We watched a movie, enjoyed the fire and continued to share the feast. At a time I no longer remember, we opened our gifts.
December 2016: Because of my December travel plans to visit family, Christmas had to be ready by the end of November. Everything was actually finished by mid-November — and it was wonderful. For me, October and November offered no Christmas pressure. I could plan, I could think things out, I could make purchases in uncrowded stores. My holiday schedule was independent of the usual December deadlines. Like the Christmas of 1975, December was filled with fun stuff, people time, being present-in-the-moment experiences, and the pressure-free time we always say we want during the holidays.
I tell you these stories because I know it’s possible to have hassle-free holidays. Plan now for how you will do it differently next year — not to have a more perfect Christmas like the magazines suggest — but to spend December savoring the people and moments of your life.
That’s all that really matters.
Until next Tuesday . . .