As I sat tonight to put my Christmas gift list on paper, I felt my mood shift.
My holiday spirit deflated, my mind went blank and a sense of dread filled me.
Up until that moment, Mrs. Clause had nothing on me.
There are more partridges in my pear tree than stars in the night.
Poinsettias are placed thoughtfully throughout my home along with holly, red velvet and Santas from around the world.
When you cross my threshold, a giant nutcracker greets you and he has an array of friends – elves, reindeer and snowmen, to name just a few.
The sounds of classical Christmas music fill the air and the scents of balsam, fir and gingerbread will arouse your senses.
The lights of a festive tree illuminate the living room and bedroom, too. A touch of Christmas here and there – you will certainly find it everywhere!
So why am I sitting here tired, frustrated and blue?
Why am I struggling with this list and now looking at the calendar, angst building because time is running out?
Because deep within the recesses of my soul, I long to escape the commercialization of Christmas.
I want to be set free from the mandated gift giving and lose myself in the true meaning of it – peace, cheer and joy.
Decorations, masked holiday parties and Christmas carols.
Baked goods, punch and sing-a-longs.
People coming together to smile, hug and lift each other’s spirits.
I want to celebrate simply – and sincerely.
It is not because I don’t want to give – I give each and every day throughout the year.
It is not because I am cheap – I spend liberally when and where I can, from the heart.
Giving is a way of life – not something that happens once a year.
There was a time in my life when I threw myself into the Christmas gift giving.
Go big or go home!
Maybe it’s age or maybe I am a Scrooge. Bah humbug.
But I don’t think that’s the case. I have 1001 holiday cards on my dining room table right now, sorted by family, friends, colleagues and other special people in my life.
And I can’t wait to spend a moment with each person, couple and family – because my holiday note is my way of spending time with you. I cherish that, just as my grandmother did.
I thought her ridiculous for her card writing.
Up all night, all through the season, TV table propped in front of her, crafting personal notes to each recipient through the new year. Long, penned essays.
As a middle-aged woman, I get it. It skipped a generation and now that’s me. I’m so thankful that there’s so much of her within me.
A card with no personal note? You feel obliged to send one, and thanks for the thought – or not.
The truth is, I want to delve into what the holiday is truly about.
If you’re a Christian and religious, we are celebrating a birthday. Merry Christmas.
If you’re Jewish and love the festivities, happy holidays and Happy Hanukkah to you.
If you celebrate Kwanza, I want to learn more and share it with you.
If you’re agnostic or atheist and enjoy the holidays in a different way, let’s toast.
The reality is, I want to share my heart with you.
I want to say hello, spend some time and know how you are. I want to thank you for what you bring to my life. I want to tell you what you mean to me and reflect upon our connection.
Maybe that’s why handwritten cards are so important to me – and gifts aren’t.
Or maybe it’s because a kind word from another moves me more than anything else in this world.
I believe in Santa – as every child should, and maybe we should stop there.
This year more than ever before, I feel that we should have some informal agreement that Christmas gifts aren’t obligatory over the age of 21.
A gift is a gift – not expected, not forced, not insincere. They should be from the heart – not dictated by a holiday.
Give me a daisy in May. That’s a gift.
Not a scarf on December 25 because you think you have to.
You don’t have to.
May we consider a meaningful card with heartfelt sentiments. A hug, kind words or time spent – a luxury and true gift in today’s chaotic world.
And may there be peace on earth, good will to men.
Have yourself a merry whatever you want it to be.