In the spirit of the season

Now that December has arrived we know that the days leading up to Christmas will carry the momentum of a reindeer-led sleigh and one seriously jolly pilot.

For the first time in a long time, I feel a sense of anticipation for this holiday. I would even go so far as to call it a sense of joy. But it doesn’t come as naturally to me as it once did.

For years now I have done a stellar job at masquerading holiday spirit, when really, I just didn’t feel it. You may wonder how a woman who has it all (because I do), could ever be blue during a holiday that celebrates faith and hope, that is about togetherness with family and friends, and comes with the added benefit of gifts. Would you think less of me if I told you these were the very reasons I had lost myself in the myth of merriment? So. Much. Pressure.

Money, time, expectations, schedules; I have done crazy things to ensure my family had a wonderful holiday, stockings were stuffed, wishes were met, a good time was had by all. But inside there has been an anxiety tethered to the past and the ridiculous notions I had of what the holidays should be. I could never live up to my own ideals. Life is not a Christmas movie.

I have always enjoyed the story of Christmas, the true meaning that evokes faith and hope in humanity and in something more; something bigger than Black Friday, extended to Cyber Monday and Totally In-Debt Tuesday.

For me Christmas was always about that intangible sense of love that surrounded one special day, when my extended family rallied around, happy in our dysfunction. It was a wacky, loud celebration.

But now the ghosts of Christmases past are just characters in my story. Our table holds fewer plates. My children don’t have a house full of cousins, two sets of grandparents and a host of aunts and uncles to pinch their cheeks and ask if they are dating yet.

I used to think that meant they were missing out, but it wasn’t until I asked them recently what they wanted to do to make Christmas more fun that I realized they don’t know anything other than the family they have – and our weird and wonderful traditions are what they look forward to. It’s not the size of the family; it’s the love within it. Truth is, they have everything they need before the gifts are even unwrapped. They know it. How did I not see that?

The holidays are a challenging time for many people. For some in our community this has been a year of loss or suffering. For others, it’s a lonely time and for others still, it is a struggle deeper than you know. Please remember that.

In the spirit of the season, be kind and be generous to those who don’t have all that you do. Have compassion. Restore faith. Offer hope. That’s Christmas.


Kelly Waterhouse