This year’s countdown to the holidays began on October 31st when people started decorating for Christmas and department stores rolled out their holiday advertising campaigns. Blame it on the pandemic, or the thirst for diversion from the nightly news. People are ready to party like never before to make up for last year’s masked-up isolated non-get-togethers. Covid burnout has fueled the fire for bigger-than-ever celebrations. Omicron be damned!
At the end of November, Thanksgiving passed with nary a blip on my social radar. Just another Thursday night dinner with more family than usual. The day disappeared quicker than the leftover turkey.
December turned the calendar into one last hanging page on the wall. All the other months are sitting in the recycling bin waiting to be ground into pulp for next year’s calendar. The inevitable countdown to Christmas can’t be stopped now! I bought advent calenders for my grandchildren so they could open the tiny cardboard doors and find miniature chocolate treats to mark the days until December 25th. They were already three days behind by the time I got the calendars to them. They got to enjoy their first three treats all at once. The children were happy, but it made me realize just how fast this month is flying.
I working hard to savor these pre-holiday days. I waited for some mild weather to string Christmas lights on my house. I assembled a family of reindeer on my lawn. I savored untangling the knotted lights I should have tested before they made their way to the front porch. I savored stringing my perfectly placed icicle-shaped lights hanging over the porch railing (and I savored the re-stringing of them after my wife told me I hung them in the wrong place). I even savored the excitement of trying to find the correct connections of the plugs to make sure everything would light up when I finally plugged in my extension cord.
I savored decorating my Christmas tree with my grandchildren. Their annual sleepover didn’t generate much sleeping, but it did produce a beautiful looking tree displayed in my living room. I even held the holiday spirit close to my heart the next day when my wife asked me to move the perfectly decorated tree away from the corner wall and closer to the sofa so she could fit more gifts underneath it. Moving a fully decorated tree two feet to the right without breaking anything was a challenge. Moving a fully decorated tree back to its original position after my wife decided it looked better before “we” moved it was even more of a challenge.
With only a couple of weekends left until the holiday, I’m savoring my trips doing errands around town. The town common looks beautiful. On the side streets, there are definitely more holiday lights shining this year than last year. It seems like it anyway. Maybe I’m just noticing them more because I’m not fully consumed with worries about the pandemic. My worries are still there, they’ve just been pushed little further back on my list of “priority worries”.
I’m trying to shop smarter for Christmas this year. I’m not running willy-nilly into BJ’s loading up one of their triple-sized shopping carts with whatever catches my eye. I’ve ordered my wife’s “big gift” online so that eliminates some of the pressure. I just hope it navigates its way through the supply chain by Christmas Eve and survives being kidnapped by porch pirates once it arrives. Let’s just say “BJ’s as Plan B” is not off the table yet.
This year, I’m looking forward to the holiday traditions I missed in 2020. I’m excited to attend a Christmas party with a Yankee Swap. This event always produces top-notch gift selections (except for the 2019 party when an outside guest not understanding the concept of a “family” party brought marijuana edibles for the swap. Although I hear Nana loved her gift).
Before the yuletide rises over my head, I want to take time to remember the religious aspect of the holiday which easily gets lost in the consumer shuffle. Let’s all take a moment and think about the true meaning of the holiday. Have we gone too far? Are we beyond the need for religion when the internet offers us anything and everything at our fingertips at the press of a button? I’m waiting for someone to ask me what I want for Christmas. My response will be “I want less.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that before. So savor the days leading up to the holidays. Oh, and one more thing, just remember to breathe.