“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss,
There are a million and one think pieces about nostalgia, disenchantment, or even doldrums during the holiday season, but the truth is that I don’t really agree. I love Christmas and am 100% on board the idea of a season of the year dedicated to friends and family, giving, tradition, belief (if so inclined), and peace.
However I will admit that Christmas as an adult is certainly more effortful–it’s easy to believe in the magic of the season as a kid, but trickier as an adult. Christmas becomes and requires harder work the older I get. Jeff and I were speaking recently about how we haven’t really felt very Christmas-y this year and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s because I haven’t had to put much elbow grease into it.
In seven and a half years of marriage we’ve only done two Christmases by ourselves, the first year in London and last. Even though we were away from family, I felt downright elf-like in my enthusiasm, especially the first year. But thinking back on it, I bought a (tiny) tree, we went to Christmas services at Westminster Abbey, and I did the traditional Rodgers Family spread for Christmas Eve dinner. We went to Christmas markets, had to organize our shopping and shipping carefully instead of schlepping presents home in a suitcase, and generally expended energy to celebrate the holiday.
Tradition is my byword for the season. So much of what I love about Christmas is bound up in the traditions my family espoused, adopted, or created. From putting our shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with candy to opening a single group present on Christmas Eve (inevitably a group game for the whole family to play together), to our usual Christmas morning breakfast (baked french toast with peaches and pecans), there are a lot of elements that go into making the holidays for me. Decorations that I recognize from childhood, albums ditto, pots of wassail bubbling away on the stove…it’s package experience.
Conversely, when we’ve done Christmas at one of our family’s the majority of our holiday efforts (and finances) revolve around making it across the Atlantic and trying to be good guests. A huge amount of the work is usually undertaken by someone else–shoutout to our mothers! The lazy side of me appreciates and enjoys this tremendously, but I’m noticing that the shine has started to come off the holiday in recent years and I think it’s a direct result of not having to put too much effort into celebrating it.
This year saw us travelling stateside a lot; the total will be three trips jointly and a fourth for Jeff. Though one of these was generously paid for unbelievably kind parents, we aren’t planning to travel stateside in 2017 as a result and, at least where the holidays are concerned, I think this might be a good thing. Not that we won’t miss family, we will, but I’m feeling the need to put effort into the season next year. I want to buy our first proper Christmas tree in nearly a decade of marriage, decorate the house a bit, maybe even throw a party for friends. I want to recreate my own family traditions and toss a few new ones into the mix (Jeff has some thoughts on a Christmas Eve breakfast as well as Christmas Day).
In short, I want to work for it a bit more.