Oof. This is what I was feeling for the past week. I don’t know why. Prior to the Christmas season I was knee deep in Thankfulness. I took on Thanksgiving like a champ. Although it was different, small and uneventful, I did my best to carve out the best perspective and delicious turkey. We did it. We made our way through Thanksgiving by ourselves.
And in one night…it was over.
The next day I saw Christmas trees up all over Facebook and the commercials and storefronts busted out their holiday cheer. Even the Thanksgiving parade was full of Christmas songs. So why was I all of a sudden feeling like Grinch in my spirit?
Perhaps Thanksgiving and all the feelings that came with it, took it all out of me. Perhaps I could chalk it up to the pandemic effect, where everything seemed harder. Maybe it was the sadness seeing others gather, while we chose not to. Maybe it was my own unbalance; my increase in sugar and decrease of yoga over the holiday. Maybe, it was the conversations I was having about what Christmas would look like.
All I can say is that I was feeling tender and tired. And getting out bins and rearranging the furniture for a tree was the last thing I wanted to do. My soul felt cluttered, I didn’t want my home to feel that way too.
Along with all that, I was living with simultaneous regret. For years I had wished we would be home the weekend after Thanksgiving so we could decorate our tree, but we are usually too weary from travel. For the first time, we were here. And of course…no one felt like Christmas.
Christmas wish lists, name drawings and exchanges were beginning to emerge. I wasn’t there yet. Can the Covid Thanksgiving we just triumphed over, linger a bit? Can we sit in the feeling of gratitude…longer? I wondered.
Transitioning mindsets from thankful to want…felt all too soon. Overwhelmed, I posted on this feeling and took note of a few who were feeling like me.
And in their admissions, I felt a little less…alone.
The following weekend we knew it was time to muscle up, no matter how we felt. Of course, that intention was quickly met with a terrible nights sleep and a cranky kid-parent ratio. Of course, my moon gave way and so did my cramps, allowing little room for the Christmas spirit needed to sweat the decor. Goodness, this life.
My own energy started to affect the home. My husband and I fought. We bartered with our cranky child. We despaired with indecision and downcast hearts. The teens wandered aimlessly on their phones. We didn’t feel up for the quest of a tree. This all… felt crippling to my old-fashioned soul.
There was this one. This one little girl bouncing with Christmas spirit. Her joy could not be thwarted. Her excitement to get a tree exuding from her tiny self.
And I wanted to do it all…just for her. Just for her heart. “I do not want to crush her spirit” I told my husband. He understood. So we rose.
We gathered the troops. Into the van we went…into the world of Christmas.
We passed the local tree place we’ve supported before, but it had no trees left. We drove to a tree farm we had heard so much about, an experience that was sure to put us in the holiday vibe.
As we entered the farm we found cars leaving…with no trees on their trunks. Strange. Looking out the windows we noticed the sparse farm, sprinkled with little trees only attempting at growth. Approaching the welcome booth, we inquired how to cut down our tree and where to find the pre-cut majestics. The man cracked the window and shared there were none left, but we could take a look in the fields.
Saw in hand we wandered the fields. The cold freezing our weariness in plight, we walked over stumps of trees that were already gathered from those that were on it this year. Cue the feeling of failure. There were no trees. The only ones left were small in measure and high in price.
How very 2020, we thought. The husband and I looked at each other, we almost had to laugh. The togetherness of the ridiculousness began to merge the gap.
We headed toward the sign of “free Hot chocolate” to lift our spirits, meanwhile our needy one asked “can we go to Starbucks?” Sigh. Isn’t this enough?
Stepping into the warmth of the store, masks on, we headed to the sweet smelling cafe. Uncomfortably packed, we grabbed our drink and found an empty space where we could safely sip in peace…and think. The old fashioned barn lit up in decor that every mom, grandma and auntie would love. We lingered to find special ornaments for loved ones and make use of the journey, but with no tree in hand we had to head back out. We were on a mission and would not accept defeat.
The children’s book Mooseletoe came to mind as we walked through a similar story line. Only this wasn’t Christmas eve with tree shortages, this was the first weekend of December!
Heading back to town we went to the tree lot we go to when all is lost. Stepping into the mix of pine and winter, there were trees for days. Every tree full, every tree big, every tree ready for a home and hearth. Our hearts soared from the low to abundance! We picked it in as little time as it took to tie a shoe. “That’s it!” my joyous one said. I leaned into her spirit and agreed. On the van it goes and onward we went to a pick up of dinner and redemption of our quest.
It wasn’t all perfect from then on, but it was better. I guess that’s life, isn’t it? Two steps forward and one step back. We got the tree in and gobbled up Chipotle. My husband had the energy for 1 bin of Christmas and that was about it. We decorated a little, the kids were crazy, and my little one set to create the Nativity scene…unbothered by her siblings wrestling antics. She, focused. She, steady.
Every time I looked at her my heart welled up. What a gift. What a gift she was.
We planned to finish up the next evening. But the next evening…was more of a disaster than the first. Very pandemic worthy but not worth re-telling. So on the third night, we trimmed the tree.
Opening up boxes was like opening up memories. The old ornaments brought out with young hands, curious in it’s story. Each selected with care. Fondness of the sparkles and glue that decorate our over populated collection grew. And so our tradition began.
The sharing of our Christmas wish while hanging up our first ornament, was a ritual we started when they were little babies. It has stayed true. And this small thing we do, that we do every year, it brought the meaning into focus.
As each child wished the virus away, wished to be with family and friends and wished for peace, safety and joy. This resonated.
This moment, these prayer wishes…they go up on our tree. They adorn it with the truest of hearts and deepest of longings that this year has brought.
Our tree, is imperfect. It’s decorated with love. It’s messy and unordered. It slightly slants to the side but it smells so good. The pine travels carrying with it a lift of spirit. And it glows. This tree, it brightens our window in the dark of night. It is us. And all of our pieces and all of our memories and all of our hearts and all of our pains…it is us.
This season is different. In truth, I am not always up for the challenge. The lights though, they brighten me when I see them. And the light in the little one dancing around me, make me feel even brighter. It was worth all the mustering up.
As we closed out the night, I was astounded by the better ideas of my 7 year old. “Let’s wrap ourselves up in the Christmas lights!” “Let’s make a Christmas chair!” She exclaimed, with toy antlers atop her darling little head.
We capped off the night with Frosty The Snowman, the teens made fun of the old fashioned voices, the littles engrossed in the holiday tale, and I thankful to be watching an age appropriate show (unlike the constant Marvel requests) noticed her.
She, this love filled up one… she sang along.
She sat on a chair too big for her, the one she carefully wrapped in Christmas lights to make special, and she sang Frosty the Snowman from the cheer in her heart. My little girl wrapped us up in her love. This Christmas spirit pouring out of her was a healing salve on my own tattered soul. My husband and I gazed at her, then glanced at each other…and smiled.
We will have Christmas here. Whatever the hurdles, whatever the hardship, whatever the weary…there will be Christmas. Even if it was all just for the one. We will have it. Her light, has lit ours. And we will wake to the season and shine our lights too.
They say in times of need to look for the helpers. Well, I think I found one. She is small for her age but her heart is super sized. And she is the helper of all things merry and bright.
I am so very thankful, for her big bright light. Light the way my child…light the way.