This holiday season has been a bit “meh” for me. Perhaps it’s because we’re missing a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas and it all seems too rushed, perhaps it’s due to recent events in my personal life, perhaps it’s because earning only a living stipend makes buying Christmas gifts and goodies difficult, perhaps it’s due to the increased amount of driving I’ve done on icy and snowy roads with road ragey fellow drivers (true story, my car slipped on some ice right as a lady whipped around a corner. She yelled and flipped me off, looked like she was going to let me go since I was in the middle of the road due to the ice slip, then continued to pull forward; yell, curse and flip me off some more. I had my first big ugly cry in several weeks. Think snot, gasping tears and hiccups, which are not conducive to good driving so I got lost and then managed to make my GPS speak Dutch, which is ironic, because I know someone who can speak Dutch, but I can’t ask him to fix it for me*).
However, despite these not so cheery holiday feelings, I’ve spent a lot more time with my family, and I have thought a lot about the meaning of the holiday season. I will not restate the “true story of Christmas” because I think we are all familiar with the birth of Baby Jesus. I’m talking about enjoying the company of family and friends, being thankful for those who love and support us.
This holiday season actually reminds me a lot of one of my favorite books– Little Women. The book opens with “‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” That pretty much sums up my feelings on that aspect of Christmas. Just about everybody in my family (immediate and extended) is strapped for cash. There are about 5 of us participating in the annual Christmas draw (we all draw names and buy presents for the person whose name we drew) and I’m already worried about finding a good present for my aunt. I’d love to buy my friends and family a trinket or two, but as it is, I’m not sure that is possible. I’m also hosting a holiday party (not sure why I thought that was a good idea), so a lot of my funds are going towards food and drink for that extravaganza.
However, Beth, sweet and innocent Beth, reminds us of what is important. “‘We’ve got Father and Mother, and each other’, said Beth contentedly from her corner.” Of course, the March family patriarch is actually serving in the Civil War, so they don’t technically have him (which Jo is quick to point out). But despite their lack of money, their lack of a father and lack of general holiday spirit, the March girls pull themselves together and celebrate Christmas the right way. They pool their money to buy Marmee gifts, they donate much of the food they do have to the poor German family down the street and they put aside their differences and celebrate the holiday and enjoy each other’s company.
While I’ve spent far more time in my car, stuck in traffic, than I’d like, at least those car rides are taking me to family. This past weekend my mom and I were supposed to make cookies and then go see White Christmas at a refurbished 1920s theater. However, her oven chose this weekend to die. So I went off to volunteer with my University’s local alumni group and my mom went to her sister’s to bake. After realizing that I a) had the wrong date or b) not enough people were interested in volunteering so it was cancelled, I joined my mom and my aunt. When I arrived two of my first cousin’s once removed were already there, helping my mom cut out cookies, i.e. sneaking lots of “little tastes.” A few hours later, my cousin, her step daughter and her youngest son arrived. I enjoyed playing with the kids and visiting with my cousin before they left. A few hours after that, another cousin and his wife arrived with their two boys. We played, drank some wine and then went out for dinner.
Additionally, I shouldn’t be stressing about the money for my holiday party. I should just enjoy the fact that my friends are coming into town from far corners of the United States and want to gather together and celebrate the season.
We should take Beth’s message to heart, at least we have ______ (insert name of friend, family member, coworker, pet etc). We, or I suppose I should say I, need to take comfort in the small things. And for me, that is what this holiday season is about–appreciating what I have.
So, while my musical tastes now lean more towards Eminem (seriously his song with Rihanna is my jam right now) instead of Bing Crosby, I’m celebrating this holiday season right.
* I managed to fix my GPS, thank goodness! It speaks English again now. Yay.