The evolution of my Christmas spirit this holiday season is best described using the metaphor of a Christmas tree. You should probably sit down for this one. This could get weird.

Picture an average evergreen tree (me), rooted contently at a tree farm amongst its fellow evergreens (everybody else). It’s just standing there, living in the moment, oblivious to the holiday hullabaloo.

Yet one by one, the other evergreens disappear into the gaiety of the season. Many of these beautiful trees can’t wait for all-day Christmas music on the radio. They make plans to watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time and they aren’t the least bit stressed when a mob spontaneously arrives on their porch to sing Christmas carols.

They love to shop for the perfect gift and decorate their homes to host festive dinners, even inviting relatives they’ve avoided all year. These are very merry trees.

But the remaining evergreen, (still me) remains firmly planted in its current state of denial. It’s avoiding the pressure of financial stress, the anxiety of gift giving, festive socializing and still refuses to listen to any Christmas music before Dec. 20.

One day, the Carpenter (you knew he’d find his way into this metaphor somehow) comes along and cuts that evergreen down, drags it from the forest and throws it in the back of his pickup truck. Before it knows what’s happening, the tree (yes, still me) is propped up in the corner of the living room and told to relax. Everything will be fine. Christmas will be imperfectly perfect, like everything else in our lives. We will make it fun, he says.

Then someone plays Nat King Cole, and like chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the warmth melts the ice from the evergreen’s branches. (note: this song is the only exception to Christmas music before Dec. 20).

And then, in a mad flurry of family activity, the tree becomes a virtual disco ball of coloured lights and tacky, glitter décor, with heirloom ornaments. An angel stands atop the tree reminding all who look upon it that Christmas always was and always will be a celebration of love, pure and simple. The evergreen (me) is ever grateful for the reminder.

I know that Christmas isn’t easy for everyone. I know having merriment thrust upon you doesn’t help when you are grieving, or lonely, far from loved ones or feeling overwhelmed. Please take care of one another this holiday. Leave no one out. Check in on your neighbours. Call those who need your voice.

Let’s not lose the message in the commotion. The best gift you can give someone costs you nothing at all: love, pure and simple.

WriteOut of Her Mind