I’m having a different kind of Christmas this year. Not by choice but by circumstance. The plumbing in my newly renovated bathroom decided to give way and take with it my living room ceiling. So now I have a 15-foot exposed living room ceiling (aka Christmas room) showing off my newly fixed plumbing while all the furniture sits in one corner, covered with sheets.
I suppose I could get upset and have the worse December ever, but instead I decided to cancel Christmas. What happened next was totally unexpected. I felt lighter and began thinking about what I’d like to do with my December while everyone else was engaged in the holidays.
It wasn’t long before I found something to do. I’m going away but while I wait for my departure date, I find myself going about my days feeling very detached from the bustling activities around me, like I’m watching the holidays pass me by and I have nothing to do. I have to say, it feels pretty good.
The malls are busy but people are mostly stressed instead of happy, conversations of family gatherings take on a tone of frustration and anxious anticipation and people are talking practically about money and waste.
But I’m sort of walking through it, enjoying the nicest parts of Christmas. I get a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart when I hear Christmas carols, am amazed at how beautiful some of the houses are decorated, especially at night and there are so many candle light strolls and choir performances that I’m actually being swept away with the best bits of the holidays – how glorious!
As I sit on the sidelines to Christmas this year I’m incredibly thankful I’m not caught up in what I now see as holiday madness. Each and every Christmas I try to recreate the amazing Christmas of my youth for my own family. My family would always put on an incredibly memorable event. It was never about the presents because they would have them all “made” by the end of November. The first few weeks in December was spent making a special outfit to wear on Christmas Eve, then the week prior to Christmas was for preparing special dishes, a little at a time. For my family, Christmas was all about the Christmas table, the food and the gathering. I’m sure it wasn’t always manageable but the effort was always made because – well, it’s Christmas.
This year I didn’t really cancel Christmas but I cancelled the madness that Christmas has become. As you read this, I’ll be in Paris, France with my family strolling the Christmas Markets on the Champs Elyse with a hot cup of cocoa in my hands. I have an apartment just off the Louvre, I brought my Julia Child cookbooks and I’ll be making beef Bourgogne for Christmas dinner along with garlic butter escargot I'll buy at the farmers market and a stunning tourte aux pommes (apple tart) I'll pick up at one of Paris’ famous patisseries. We’ll light some candles, decorate a tiny tree with a few ornaments we found at the Christmas market and our presents will be ourselves. This year is a very simple Christmas, a return to the memorable ones – my gosh, how did things get so out of hand?
I’m not sure that you need a house disaster to remove the holiday madness from Christmas nor do I think you need to travel to the other side of the world for a simpler, more enjoyable Christmas but it’s amazing how beautiful Christmas can be when you let go and focus on what really matters.
Whether your Christmas table is elaborately festive or simple and delicious, may it be one for your family’s memory books and above all else, enjoy the holidays in which ever way you choose for Christmas is truly meant to be enjoyed. Merry Christmas.