Gabe and I are having a really hard time feeling festive this December. Typically, starting in September, I’m all geared up for the last quarter of the year, jumping from my birthday to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and then tying it all up with New Year celebrations but this year, I lost steam somewhere along the way and now that December is here, I hardly care.
We’re not a religious family so Christmas is not about baby Jesus for us. Instead, it’s about finishing the year, celebrating the snow and cold and nature’s slumber. It’s about spending time with friends we don’t see often enough and with family whom we see all the time but with the added bonus of watching the kids open presents. It’s about spreading joy throughout a dark month. It’s a wonderful time, one we usually enjoy to the fullest.
But this year, we do not care.
It’s not just us; we’re hearing similar sentiments from all corners, Christian and non-Christian alike. Old and young, families and singletons. It seems there are large pockets of the seasonally disaffected everywhere we look.
Where did our holiday spirit go?
In an effort to bring it back, we’ve been watching our favorite holiday movies. So far, we’ve consumed “Elf“, “A Christmas Story“, Rankin & Bass’ “Jack Frost” (ok, my favorite, not Gabe’s; I love the box of dreams they pass around on Christmas day), and “Christmas Vacation.” And yet…nothing.
There are Christmas carols playing, it’s been snowy and cold, the cider is in its final, carmelized stages, but something is missing.
I made ice lights, lumin-ice-ias, if you will, the other night. They’re lovely, all glowing and twinkerly, casting brightness through slightly- melting ice.
I put lights up on the house the first weekend in December in an attempt to bring magic to the yard but the lights are the LED kind and they’re just so empty-looking, so dark, so uncolorful. Hollow. They make me sad with their lack of brightness and warmth. We put up the tree, too, and it’s got cute lights, but that’s as far as we got until the other night when we threw some ornaments on – only about half of them – and called it good.
I was grateful, though, for the actual ornaments. I’ve got baubles that have come with me from childhood. Gabe has some from his last life, the one before the two of us. We have trinkets we’ve found together on our adventures – we try to buy an ornament every time we go somewhere. We have one from Thanksgiving in Estes Park in 2008, a happy and sad year. We have one from our Disney Cruise honeymoon in 2009 and one from our trip to the La Brea tar pits last year. There are many more; it’s fun to take them out and remember the places we’ve been and things we’ve done.
I have ornaments that have been given to me as gifts and even though I can’t remember anything else in my life, I remember who gave those little decorations to me. I have ornaments from my BFF’s sister who died; T gave friends and family her sister’s Christmas tree decorations so we could continue share the holidays with her. I have such good memories of Christmas Eves with T and her twin so I cherish those ornaments and look forward to seeing them every year. I inherited the handmade ribbon-and-bead ornaments one of my mom’s friends made for her back before I was born. As the 70’s passed, those gaudy, flashy, homemade things became ugly to everyone but me and my siblings. I still think they’re beautiful though I understand why my mom finds them hideous. It doesn’t help that they’ve lost their tassels and a lot of the pins and beads that held them together.
Unpacking and hanging the ornaments was like being able to look into a festive, jolly house. I saw, smelled, remembered holiday joy. But I still don’t feel it. The magic is missing and I dont know why.
I’m going to go find it.
And when I do, I’ll love it more than usual because I have missed it. Off I go, on my quest to find my holiday bliss.
I’ll be back next year, folks, with new stories and crazy tales and, hopefully, we will have found the Spirit of Christmas!
Be well, Happy Holidays, and I wish you all a safe and perfect New Year.