My Christmas tree is always a source of tremendous joy, but this year’s is especially significant. I usually spend two hours searching the acres at a local farm, determined to find the perfectly shaped tree. This year, instead, I cut one down in the yard. It’s one I planted with my very own hands, when it was just a tiny sapling. Many years ago, while tent camping, I smuggled it out of a Vermont State Park in a styrofoam cup.
‘Bittersweet’ doesn’t begin to describe the emotion I’ve been experiencing. After 27 years, this is the last Christmas I’ll spend in my home. I’ve only lived in 3 places in my life. This house has been home the longest. It’s where I raised my children, planted trees, buried beloved pets. I mourned the loss of a best friend here and then, that of my mother. I fell in and out of love. I learned to be independent. This home has been my refuge in the worst of times. It’s also where my family celebrated birthdays, Thanksgiving and, of course, Christmas.
So, this year has been difficult. I struggled to feel the spirit of the season. I needed to switch it up. I needed to simplify. Less decorating. Less gifts. Less commitments. Less chaos. Less everything.
For many, Christmas is not a season, but a day, just like any other. It’s a time filled with a lifetime of memories. It’s a landscape wrought with emotional landmines. Even if you love Christmas, it can be a challenge. Let’s face it, whether you celebrate Jesus’ birth or the arrival of Santa – or both – It’s pretty demanding. Expectations run high. Perfection is the goal. It’s an expensive, materialistic pressure cooker. It’s exhausting.
Circumstances required some drastic changes this year. I looked at all of the things I usually do and crossed several things off the list. It was hard, but necessary. I just simply couldn’t do it.
Once the demands and pressures began to recede, something amazing happened. Christmas spirit returned to me.
I stripped Christmas down to the bare bones this year. No cards, no cookies, no coordinating gift wrap. No fancy tree, no outdoor lights. Just a few gifts wrapped in brown paper, some candles, music, of course…….And an awkward little tree from the backyard. There’s more room for what matters, now. Joy. Peace. Comfort. Love.
Merry Christmas to my faithful readers. My wish is that you find beauty in the imperfect, joy in the ordinary, comfort in the simplest of things, peace in your heart. Most of all, may you feel the love that is the spirit of Christmas. It truly is the best gift of all.