Every year for the last 15 or so, I've thrown a big tree-trimming party for all my friends. I always have an eight-foot tree with hundreds of ornaments and enough lights to tax the electric grid to capacity. Last year, I was struggling financially and my friends all chipped in and rescued the party. This year, I decided that even with help, it felt overwhelming. I stressed about whether or not to go ahead with it anyway. The thought of canceling such a tradition brought with it this very odd sense of failure that I couldn’t quite figure out.
Then it hit me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have the party. I didn’t want it. Or the eight-foot tree. Not this year. And that was okay. If I went ahead with it I'd be doing so only out of a sense of obligation, not to my friends so much, but to this idea that was stuck in my head of what I thought I had to have and do in order to celebrate Christmas. I realized all that was really needed was the joy of the season and I could create that in my heart.
This week I'll go shopping for my tree and I couldn't be more excited. It will be three feet tall, the perfect size to sit atop a little glass table in the corner of my living room. I’ll put on the Il Divo Christmas album, light a fire and smile at the memories my ornaments evoke as I carefully unwrap each one. I'll pick my favorites: A tiny framed photo, a fragile hand-painted kitten, a spotted glass pony, and so many, many more – every single one a gift from a dear friend from a Christmas we’ve shared. And when I’m done, that little tree will sparkle with such light and love it will seem eight feet tall.
Now let’s get some Christmas spirit going around here.
If you want to leave some Christmas cheer in the comments, I'd love to have it. But if you're a big, old bah humbug, then just go elf yourself. Merry Christmas.