I like Thanksgiving– the food is great, seeing family is fun, and there’s always much to be thankful for. But I’m one of those people who really loves Thanksgiving only because of what it means for the future. To me, Thanksgiving simply means:
***********************CHRISTMAS IS COMING***********************
And Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year– FAVORITE!
The jingling! The jangling! The sparkling! The magic!!
A lot of people argue about the meaning of Christmas, whether it’s been overly commercialized, and how we spend too much time celebrating it. I am not one of those people. I don’t really care about any of that.
Because for me, during the Christmas season, my heart just SWELLS (end-of-the-movie-Grinch-style) and fills to the max, beating extra hard with joy as I see the beauty, the cheer, the peace, the comfort, the charity and generosity*, the grace, the family, the LOVE, and all the other beautiful and good things that the holidays bring. That they epitomize, really. And while I can’t comment as an expert on the holidays of the other major religions, I strongly suspect this to be the case surrounding Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as well. (Am I right? Anyone?)
I absolutely adore putting up the tree, the scent of fresh pine filling my house as I hang up our ornaments, each one representing a beautiful memory. I love that we get to go to Seth’s uncle’s tree farm to pick the tree out– grown and cared for by family for years. I love the advent season, the spirit of expectation and of hope, peace, joy, and love as we light another candle each week. (And I super love that my mother- and father-in-law just gave me a beautiful advent wreath as an early Christmas gift!! It’s gorgeous!!) I love stringing the Christmas lights up on the house and remembering how year after year my dad and I struggled with new and more creative(ly dangerous) ways to get the lights all the way to the tippy top of our once-upon-a-time-Charlie-Brown-Christmas-tree that traveled with us all the way from Skandia to be planted in front of our house. And I even love remembering the sound of the vacuum bulbs exploding when they hit the concrete because our latest and greatest plan didn’t quite pan out as expected. POP!
I love the scents (the cinnamon, the vanilla, the pine, the fresh cold snow), I love the sounds (the happy music and tinkling bells), I love the chill in the air (or the frigid snap of snot-freezing cold, as the case may be), and I love the giving and the receiving, the sharing of so much– gifts, food, love, time, whatever it is that we get to share this time of year.
Sometimes the hustle and bustle of reality threatens to overtake all the other good feelings I love to cultivate this time of year, but it’s completely in my power to prevent that and this year has felt nothing but good, despite the hardship.
My sweet puppy had to have a repeat knee surgery and she’s laid up for four full weeks, through Christmas. Nothing but kennel or potty with a leash and a sling. Seth and I are limited in how much we can be away from the house. But my sister-in-law agreed to pick me out a tree, and when I’m in the kitchen baking I know my husband is snuggling my pup and when I’m done it will be my turn. She is loved and she knows it and we’re making it work. Our house may be a bit messier, but it still smells like Christmas… and a little bit of poop. Did you know anesthesia can cause some severe diarrhea in dogs? Because it can. And it did. But don’t worry, mostly it just smells like Christmas now. (Thank goodness for the good people at Lysol, Clorox, and LG!!)
Our travel plans had to change on account of the surgery, but my sister and mom assured me that all that matters is getting to spend time together, not the day, and encouraged me and Seth to save vacation for a longer trip next year. So instead of a week long trip with our pup in tow, I’ll be making a quick jaunt over to celebrate Christmas the weekend before at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And even if I couldn’t, I guarantee you that every one of them would understand why. (But good news– I totally can!)
No matter the circumstances, the sights, sounds, smells, and most importantly, feelings of Christmas are everywhere this time of year– and, as I learned from The Muppet Christmas Carol, I should both honor Christmas and try to keep it all the year!
(Watching The Muppet Christmas Carol is my family’s Christmas Eve tradition. We all packed together on the couch year after year, packing in another significant other or two as time went on, and watched that amazing movie– singing along with Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife, of course. My in-laws totally humor me by watching it now– that’s love! And that’s Christmas!!)
*Interested in learning more about generosity this holiday season? Check out my friend Chris Lema’s brilliant 30-day series on the subject. (Yes, I’m name dropping by qualifying that last sentence with “my friend,” but it’s true and I’m proud to get to say it. I know him in real life, y’all!) It’s a thing of beauty from the true master of generosity himself (trust me on this one, I have been the recipient of his generosity in so many ways it’s unbelievable).