And so this is Christmas. It's never really been my holiday. Losing my Mom when I was 18 6 weeks before Christmas seems to have cast a pall over the season for me. I thought that would change when I had children of my own and to some extent it has. I shifted from as close to total avoidance as I could get to orchestrating the best damn Christmas EVER. Still, those holiday memories are a blur of exhaustion and tears - mine and the kids from trying to create the "perfect" holiday of gingerbread houses, breakfast with Santa in the right clothes, the desired presents wrapped with handmade bows, baking several kinds of cookies and plating them up merrily for friends and family, planning, cooking and setting a beautiful table for the dinner. I squeezed us all too tightly trying to have an epic Christmas. And, I never quite acquired that joyful aura I saw in other people or the magic described in Christmas carols or movies. The economic downturn saw expensive gifts, parties and dinners morph into something sweeter and more meaningful. Limited resources made it necessary to identify which things were the most important to make the holiday special thereby creating a natural balance that cut down on the craziness. At first downsizing Christmas can seem like a bummer but in hindsight it made it more special.
This year the Christmas spirit is again elusive. I've decided the holidays can occur on a kind of lighting dimmer switch. With kids I can't turn the holiday lights out completely but I can adjust the focus on the things that make it our kind of Christmas. A tree is a must (I asked the kids if we could do a smaller tree and was told "NO") but I came to the conclusion this year that all the ornaments don't have to make it onto the tree. The favorites and some beautiful new ones made the tree fabulous and done without the angst. Some treasured decorations like the hand print Christmas tree tile and the gold pine cone with pom-poms are a must-see but I didn't feel compelled to find a place for every decoration we own. The Santa's Village didn't get set up this year and that's okay. I made a new decoration with some colorful $5.00 ornaments and every time I pass by the table it sits on, I feel happy.
While I haven't been overcome with Christmas spirit, there have been moments of happiness that have come from letting go of expectations of how the perfect holiday should look. I've enjoyed the peace that comes with only doing the things that I want to do and that I knew would make me feel good. The book "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" says there is joy in repetition. Sometimes by putting one foot in front of the other and really listening to your heart's desire you'll find that you get through ho-hum to Merry Christmas.