I really haven’t had any holiday spirit this year. I did put up decorations and a tree, nada. It could be the warm weather, working in a joyless environment or it could just be an off year for me. Maybe it’s just one of those years. I’m not one of those people who find this to be a particularly busy time of year and just sigh when everything is put on hold because everyone is “so busy”. I think I’m just reflecting this in my experience, Christmas isn’t always that over the top, over shopped, over sung, over eaten, partied and wrapped event for everyone who chooses to participate in the holiday. For me, the joy is in choosing to ignore the messages the media sends and celebrating it on my own terms.
My extended family has always been quite small as were our holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were typically my family and my grandparents, sometimes with Dr. Art Edgerton a blind musician and academic who lived with my grandparents for a while, and his family. When my children were little, I remember that feeling of the Christmas feeling rather bland once we’d gone to Mass and opened the gifts, so I did my best to prolong things for them. I created scavenger hunts for several years, with the hunts getting longer as they got old. I remember one clue read “it searchers Uranus for Klingons” leading them to the toilet tissue stored in the bathroom for the next clue. One year, my oldest son’s clues were the leftover words in a word search and another year they were in Spanish. I can remember my youngest son having to go out in the snow to get a clue off a tree. The hunt led them to look for clues in places such as the clothes dryer, behind tires on the car, in Bible verses and one year they even had to call people on the phone to get clues. One year when they were teenagers, I gave them presents and told them they were for their dad and his parents. They took the presents to their dad’s home and he put them under his tree. Of course, the clues led them back to those same gifts that were actually theirs. The hunts ended when my daughter, after following her trail of clues spent hours looking for her gifts that I buried in her room. She was done. My children do laugh when they talk about them, but say at that time…nope, not so much.
My Christmas’s have become non-traditional. While I often spend them with my sister in Indy, I’ve also spent them in Cincinnati, OH; Atlanta, GA; Pingtung, Taiwan and Nassau Bahamas. There are years I’ve taken a bye on the whole thing and not put up a tree, not decorated and had no special dinner. I’ve spent the day alone, with family and with friends. There were years my children didn’t get presents until I got my tax returns and as much as I hated that, they’ve since told me they loved that when that happened because they got money to spend on what they wanted. There were years I spent more on student’s presents than my children’s. I remember a Christmas when I brought a student from Egypt to my sister and brother in law’s and she couldn’t wait for us to sing carols. It didn’t happen. I truly enjoyed Junkaroo in Nassau and hope to attend that again. Yesterday, my sister and I had our annual Cookies and Cocktails and that was way more fun than I anticipated.
And, this is just about the material stuff I do. Christmas isn’t religious for me. It’s dark time of year and sometimes, I dig into that darkness more than I do in other years. I came home late last night, and looked up at the sky from the lot outside. As cold as it was, I just stood and looked at the stars.
Whatever you choose to do (or not to do) on the 25th,I hope it brings you peace and joy.