My dear friend Pax so aptly blogged about some of the recurring annoyance of the holiday season. I'm feeling less pressured this year - don't ask me why; I couldn't say. In any event, here is a list of the things I love about this time of year:
1. People working together to create a warm holiday celebration at the office.
As government employees we are not permitted to celebrate on the clock, so we put together a Holiday Event within the confines of the office. Everyone uses their official break time to come together to celebrate. People sign up in advance to bring a dish and help out in general. It turns into quite an extravaganza. It can be a feeding frenzy, too, but that's in keeping with the season.
2. Red and green.
These are colors that I would not stomach together most of the year, but at Christmas they are beautiful. Throw in a little gold and silver, some candles and light strands, et Voila! Seasonal bliss.
I like a good fruitcake. No, not the grocery store version with rum extract, but the real stuff. It's hard to find a good one locally anymore. Anyone know where to get one?
4. Christmas shopping.
I actually like shopping. I rarely have to buy something for anyone I don't really care about, and buying for those you love is a joy. I do try to avoid the crowds, for the most part.
5. Christmas songs.
I haven't been inundated with them this year, and it's refreshing not to have them overplayed. I love them when they aren't forced on me 24/7. It's nice to know all of the words, and most of the melodies are simple enough even for my feeble voice. OK, there are some exceptions, but I still sing them when no one else can hear me!
6. Decorated homes, from the simple to the sublime.
My exterior decorations are limited to a candle in each front window and a wreath on the front door. I really appreciate the folks who take the time to put up elaborate displays, and I'll ride around several evenings from now 'til Little Christmas to enjoy the view.
7. Christmas cookies.
No further explanation needed.
8. Christmas Eve.
It's still magical to me, pregnant with soon-to-be fulfilled wishes and dreams yet to come true.
9. The wonder of the winter world.
I love the woodlands in winter. I love feeding the birds and finding deer prints in my yard. I love crisp air and cozy fires, hot toddies and long, cold nights.
10. Layers of shared cultural history.
Remember the year in the 1960's when we had a huge snowfall on Christmas Eve? Remember finding a bike under the tree? Remember your quirky extended family, all in one room at one time? Remember getting Dancerina for Christmas, or Charmin' Chatty, or Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots? Remember the year in the 80's when it was 70 degrees on Christmas Day in the North, and everyone wore T-Shirts and played touch football? Remember waiting to watch Rudolph every year, and Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree?
Maybe I enjoy Christmas more these days because I've learned to eliminate a lot of the unnecessary stuff - overdone gifts, excessive outings and responsibilities. I only send a few cards these days, and I do a lot less work. I look forward to the serenity that you can find in the season.
I wish each and every one of you a beautiful holiday season, exciting or serene - whichever you prefer. No matter what you celebrate, or if Christmas is just an extra day off to you, may it be rich in all of your favorite things.