A Year of Gifts
I admit I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to Christmas. I love the decorations, the music, the corny holiday shows… The list goes on and on.
But despite how much I love the season, I head into December with a tiny knot of dread in the pit of my stomach and usually breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over. I suspect I’m not alone. Because let’s admit it—celebrating the season can be a lot of work! We often try to accomplish more than we have time for and end up scrambling at the last minute.
Everyone’s idea of “celebrating” looks different. I suspect much of how we celebrate has its foundation in how we each experienced the holidays while growing up. Not always, but often.
For us, Christmas meant tons of decorations, lots of family time, attending Mass at our beautiful hometown church, and gift exchanges. We were lucky to grow up in the same town as our grandparents. Even as they grew old and frail, we’d be sure to bring them to Mom and Dad’s to celebrate with everyone. When our children were young, we were blessed to have four generations around the dinner table, enjoying the same menu that had been served for years.
Many people struggle over the holidays. Joy can be hard to find when you are missing someone or going through difficult times. I suspect all of us will have years where the lights don’t seem to shine quite as brightly. Our heart isn’t in it.
Maybe those are the times when we need the magic of the holidays the most.
What if we lower our expectations and find joy in the little things? Forget about trying to make everything perfect. I bet no one will notice if you don’t bake that fourth kind of cookie. Or if they do, they’ll appreciate the treats even more if you bake them next year. If you want to get cards out but it’s looking like they won’t get delivered until after New Year’s, send them anyhow. It's never too late to say ‘hello' and let people know you're thinking of them. Slap some wrapping paper on those last few presents you haven’t yet gotten around to and don’t worry if the edges don’t quite meet or there isn’t a ribbon in sight.
Instead of fretting about those pesky details you haven’t gotten to yet, brew your favorite cup of tea or coffee and put on some soft Christmas music. Munch on one of the cookies you did get around to baking or have an Oreo. Pull out an old photo album and enjoy a trip down memory lane. Better yet, any chance you have some old videos from Christmas past? How fun would it be to watch those?
If Christmas arrives before you get to the end of your ‘to-do’ list, let it go. Think back to some of your favorite things about the holidays and do those instead.
Now it’s time for true confessions: that last batch of cookies, a few unwrapped gifts, and a pile of cards are all waiting for me on the kitchen island and Christmas Eve is only a day and a half away. I’m trying to remember to have fun.
Last night was a great start. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with old friends. All of our kids were with us, and we even recreated an old photo of them all, initially taken years ago. Suffice it to say sitting on each other's laps wasn't as awkward when they were eight!
Those are the experiences we should strive for over the holidays. Time with family and friends, making more memories. Because there will be times when those memories will keep us warm.
And in the tiny open spaces over the next few days, I vow to make time for the following:
Even thinking about doing these little things makes me smile and I can feel my anxiety over what isn’t yet done slip away.
And during that space of time between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ll take some time to reflect on this past year and look ahead to the next. For me, it’s been a year of milestones, growth, struggling to acclimate to life without my own mom, and hope for the future. As each new year starts, I love to think about the possibilities and then plan how I want to turn some of those possibilities into realities.
But for now, the time has come to relax and enjoy the magic of the season. I invite you to make the most of this brief window of time to feel the love of family and friends, both near and far, and even if you can now only visit them in your memories. Find some quiet time, a favorite chair, and give yourself permission to feel the magic of the holidays.
Wishing you the very best, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!