This year has brought us all some challenges. The challenges are, of course, different for everyone depending on what one does for a living or every person’s stage in life. Just as our spring and summer were affected, so now so is our winter and holidays. We will all celebrate in some way. But for many of us, our gatherings will be affected in one or another. I am being positive, as I know many of you are. While my natural inclination is to stick to the usual, my mind keeps thinking about how maybe we all need to be shaking up the holidays anyway.
What do I mean by that? Well, every year for the last eight years, I have been doing the same thing. Since our son got married and started his own family, I stopped decorating as much. I do not put out all the displays of snowmen, small Christmas trees, and nativity sets like I used to, or drape the stairs with lights and garland. There have been years when I have put up our Christmas tree reluctantly, knowing it probably would not get seen by anyone but my husband and me. There have been many years when I have not bothered to cook a special meal because we would be going to our son’s to eat and play games, eating the other “big” meal of breakfast at a local restaurant.
This year, though, right when it will be our last Christmas in our current home, I am faced with the idea that we may not be able to gather with our small, extended family of about ten. I have put our tree up because it is our last Christmas here. It’s a pre-lit tree, so no lights to string. I have placed the same star we have used for the last fourteen years that a favorite niece made for us. I have placed a soft, cream blanket under the tree to give the impression of snow. I will be putting up our family wreath. And I may put a string of lights outside. That word ‘may’ is why I think the holidays need shaking up. Why am I even wondering if I should put up the outdoor lights or not, when the lights are so easy to reach in our garage?
I know many others who are warring with themselves about how to truly celebrate the Season this year with limited family, friends, and celebrations. What are you doing? Will you deck the halls with all of your decorations or keep it simple like me? Will you try to keep as many of the traditions that you normally do? Will you introduce new ones to accommodate for any celebrations on ZOOM? Have you even thought about who will travel with you to look at Christmas lights and if you will need to take more than one vehicle?
This brings to mind how when I was a kid, I loved stringing popcorn to hang on our Christmas tree. My momma would make popcorn balls and we would hang those as well. She had these lovely metallic glass beads that she would gently place on the tree; they gave it this wonderful festive look. She would also wrap rice krispie treats in Saran wrap, and those would get a hook and placed on the tree. What fun my siblings and I would have!
Another one of my favorite memories was writing Christmas Letters to each other and placing those on the tree. Today, I still do that for anyone who will be celebrating Christmas with us, whether at our house or theirs. It is those times that I miss most about Christmases past. Now that we are in a position where family and friends cannot just go from home to home spreading the love and holiday cheer, it makes moments like those all the more cherished.
As I consider what we will do this year and how we will enjoy celebrating Christmas, I keep coming back to the idea of shaking up the holidays. For me, this means giving gifts and singing Carols anyway, dressing in the brightest colors of red, blue, and green, taking cool evening walks to enjoy the Christmas lights, and planning that last special meal at this address. It also means building on the memories which we will be taking with us to our new home. Perhaps, a game of Christmas Movie charades is in order—for those of us who can gather.
In whatever way you will celebrate this holiday season, it is my wish that you choose to shake things up and do what will make this Christmas extra special to you and your family, despite the times we are currently in. Do not give into the idea that we cannot enjoy our traditions or share the love that we normally do. Be creative. Think outside the box. Find ways that you can spread the love without needing to be in close proximity. Me? I think I will get those Christmas cards done and in the mail, after all. Come on, y’all, let’s get busy shaking up the holidays!
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