‘Tis the season of lights and celebrations. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Diwali, lights figure prominently as part of the celebrations. If you don’t share in these holidays and customs, anyone can look to the stars for winter constellations like the belt of Orion and join in the universal celebrations for New Year’s Eve. Let the fireworks begin.
As a Christian, Christmas is both a magical time and an important holy day. The advent of the holiday is celebrated by lighting a candle for each week before Christmas. We drive around and look at the lights. One candle is lit for each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights (in November.)
“This is the season when people of all faiths and cultures are pushing back against the planetary darkness. We string bulbs, ignite bonfires, and light candles. And we sing.” – Anita Diamant
Christmas is work for parents.
As a child, I made paper chains, visited Santa, ate Christmas cookies, hung ornaments on the lowest branches, and waited impatiently for Santa to arrive. The season took on a magical feel.
Yet, as adults, we are the ones who make the magic happen.
Preparations fell under Mom’s realm of responsibility. I had no extra time to think, yet I wanted to do everything. I was stretched way too thin, and my nerves showed it. Christmas was no longer fun, it was a job. Christmas cards, decorating, baking, finding the right presents, pictures with Santa, et al. The year I was still on maternity leave with my twins I broke down in tears of exhaustion on Christmas Eve, as people arrived for festivities, that I of course hosted. I returned to full-time work two weeks later.
I learned from that year to plan far ahead and spread the preparations over several months to ease the work (and cost) of December. As the workload evened out, the joy grew in proportion. Now I have a different problem. Every year I stash gifts ‘in a safe place’ months prior that I can’t find. 🙂
As I write this, my oldest son and husband are unpacking our Christmas decorations and putting up the tree. One stressed-out year, my son put up the tree and decorated it as a surprise while I was gone. When I came home, I teared up in gratitude at his thoughtfulness. The tradition continued, and I am grateful for the help every year. Help with the holiday work is one of the best gifts (and surprises) a busy mom could have.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.” – Editorial published in the New York newspaper The Sun on September 21, 1897.
Objects hold special memories.
No matter who decorates the tree, it is a curated work of memories that makes me smile. I’ve accumulated more ornaments through the years than there is room on the tree. I buy Christmas ornaments when we go on vacation, or someplace new. I have ornaments for “First Married Year,” three “Baby’s First Christmas,” and most recently “First Retired Christmas,” to name just a few. From a recent car show, I even have one for “Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona.”
I suggested putting up a second tree, but my family outvoted me. I wonder why?
Perhaps my neighbors have the right idea. They never take their tree down. It might be decorated with dinosaurs, Star Trek, a different holiday, or whatever sounds good at the time. Once a year they blast it with an air compressor to remove a year’s worth of dust. Why didn’t I think of that?
Loving memories, tough memories
Holidays are about good food, faith, family, friends, gifts, parties, and more. It’s all fun and special, right?
“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy.
I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” – Charlie Brown.
For some people, holidays are difficult and stressful. It’s a good time to be sensitive and be kind to others who celebrate differently or not at all. Being kind to myself is harder, though it did get easier through the years. I had to learn that when we are kind to ourselves, and value ourselves, it is easier to be kind to others. I am blessed in many ways, including the people around me.
The holidays can invoke memories of family strife or happier holidays past. Financial difficulties and food insecurity make celebrating difficult. For others, the holidays are emotionally difficult, or a family endurance test or reminder of people no longer with us. Everyone is supposed to be happy, right? Even in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, began with thoughts of suicide on Christmas Eve. Not everyone has a guardian angel like Clarence to convince them otherwise.
I remember two Christmases with a family member in the hospital. In college, it was hard to celebrate the first Christmas after my brother passed away. Four friends remember their first Christmas as a widow. I hold another dear friend close in my heart. Four years ago, she lost her son unexpectedly on December 23. I think Christmas will always be hard for her.
I send warm thoughts and virtual hugs to anyone having a difficult time. May your holidays still be special in some way, and may you feel valued.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” – classic children’s hymn
Your presence is a present to the world.
My yoga teacher hands out little inspirational messages after each class. The one I received last week read, “Your presence is a present to the world.” Sappy and trite? Sure. Still valid? You bet. We all set ripple effects in motion by what we do or say. There is a reason movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” are timeless. Besides, all Christmas movies have happy endings, and there are lots of them. A movie marathon makes for a fun and uplifting tradition. Is anyone up for “Die Hard?”
Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyous Season of Lights and a very Happy New Year.
Szczęśliwego nowego roku. Feliz año nuevo. Bonne année. Frohes Neues Jahr.
In friendship and peace,