Red cups from Starbucks adorn office desks. Suburban streets are brighter thanks to twinkling lights dangling from rooftops. Festive songs serve as the soundtrack to our regular trips for toothpaste and vitamins. It’s now officially the holiday season and there is just no escaping it, even if you want to.
There was a time that I absolutely, unequivocally adored this time of year. I loved every minute of it. I would sit in the living room with all the lights off, quietly taking in the soft glow of the newly-decorated Christmas tree. I would gleefully shop at every opportunity, my festivity levels directly correlated with the number of bags in my hands as I walked out of the store. I enjoyed all the parties and experiencing other family’s traditions – Christian or otherwise. I look back on all of that fondly and think, “What happened?” And sadly, I know the reason. I grew up. It’s not that I just got older in age, although let’s all admit I’m no spring chicken (or maybe no spring Cornish hen, if we want to stay in-theme). I grew up in the way one does when they finally see the cracks in the veneer of once-beloved Nativity figurines. I grew up in the way that one does when they learn the real truth as to why Aunt Betsy doesn’t celebrate with us anymore. I’ve learned life and family are complicated, and this time of year is when we drag out the whole tangled heap to try to figure out what we can salvage.
I thought I’d somehow reclaim some of that yuletide joy once I became a parent. Of course, dressing our little one up in velvet dresses and watching her decorate the tree are darling memories. Her excitement as she opens gifts are commemorated in videos and photos. Visiting Macy’s in Union Square with tummies full of hot chocolate, ice skating for the first time, going to the Nutcracker—these will all be cherished moments. But, beneath it is a nagging tug at my own heart that it’s all just not like it used to be.
This year, though, THIS YEAR, I’m going to change all that. This year I’m spreading holiday cheer until it makes me miserable. I refuse to trudge through another December anxiously waiting for the ball to drop so I can get on with my life. I’m all but exhuming Bing Crosby from the grave because it’s about to go down. Who’s with me?
My first order of business is a visit to the grocery store. Give me the intercom, Jennifer, I’m singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” through the pipes. Is that a clean-up on aisle 4? If by “clean-up” you mean me in a Santa costume throwing candy canes over the freezers onto the heads of unsuspecting shoppers, then YES, bring on the caution signs! The official flavor of winter is peppermint, after all, and everyone loves hard candy being thrown at them. Don’t believe me? Think of the last holiday parade you went to and tell me what firemen were throwing from their decked-out trucks.
From now until December 31, everything I drink will contain nutmeg. Eggnog, gingerbread lattes, cider are the obvious choices. I’ll also carry little packets of the spice with me at all times just in case. If I’m not constantly smelling like incense and teetering towards developing chronic irritable bowel syndrome, I’m just not living the merry life. Sure my blood sugar levels will swing in dangerous directions, but I think this whole fruitcake in my purse will act as a bump when I feel myself falling from a manic high.
Next, I’m developing a full itinerary. Caroling via hayride: check. Tour of holiday lights by trolley: check. Wreath-making workshop: yep, check. Holiday market at the community center: perfect, I was planning on giving everyone crocheted doilies as gifts this year. Visit Santa at the mall: no, my daughter’s afraid of that guy.
I’ll also have the crockpot on and latkes cooked so I can be party-ready at any time. I might even reenact the scene from A Christmas Carol where Scrooge peers wistfully into the Cratchits’ dining room, but instead it will be me looking in on your work holiday party with my face pushed up against the glass. Don’t worry, it won’t be creepy, I’ll be wearing my nightcap and gown for authenticity.
Last but not least, Christmas Radio on Pandora is playing on continuous loop. I’ll be simultaneously imbued with joy and break the world record for number of times someone can listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” without throwing their phone out the window. The only thing I want to hear besides the dulcet melodies of holiday classics is the sound of my jingle bell earrings. I got my ears pierced especially for this occasion.
What are some ways you’re forcing yourself into the holiday spirit?
Share them in the comments!