There were many years when I loathed Christmas. I was alone and struggling to make it in show biz as a writer, with rejection my only steady companion. Christmas with all its gaiety and promise seemed to mock me and each year I swore that I was going to completely ignore it. Short of a quick hop over to Red China for the month of December, Christmas is about as easy to ignore as a mud slide heading your way.
In the end, I would always cave and put up an artificial tree barely twenty inches tall. Nothing to it. Out of the box, spread the fake branches, toss on some lights and begrudgingly declare “There! Are you happy, Christmas? You won.” When you feel bad about yourself and bad about your life, it’s hard not to dwell in the valley of dung. But then something would happen. The sparkle of that little tree would inevitably lighten my heart just enough that some of that persistent Christmas spirit would sneak past the gargoyle at the gate and manage to find its way inside of me.
As the years moved on and my career took off, I began to welcome Christmas. My trees grew in size and splendor and I couldn’t wait to put them up. The first Monday of each December, friends gathered at my home for tree-trimming and tomato bisque soup – a tradition carried on for 15 years. But, as we all know, nothing lasts forever and either we define our circumstances or they define us.
Last year, there was no eight-foot tree, no party, no traditional tomato bisque soup. Money was tight again, but Christmas came just as it always does and I found that my small table-top tree warmed my heart just as much as its larger predecessors.
This year I’ve come full-circle. A limited income, a tiny home and, once again, another tree barely 20 inches tall. I guess I could have chosen not to bother, but I’ve learned that giving in to Christmas is a lot easier than fighting it and it’s a fight I’m happy to say I lost long ago anyway. I often hear people who live alone say, “Why should I decorate? It’s just me, after all.” And now I always say to them, “Who’s more important than you?”
It’s not called “the magic of Christmas” for nothing. All it asks is that you meet it halfway. Merry Christmas…
And now go Elf yourselves…