Was It Christmas?

“So This Is Christmas”. Words from John Lennon. But it wasn’t Christmas. Was it me? Was it events? Was it too busy at times and not busy enough at other times? Somehow, as Christmas Day arrived and was and was over, it just wasn’t Christmas. It hasn’t been Christmas for a few years.
My first thoughts were that I missed the Christmas Days when I was a teen and young adult and there was a group of 3 or 4 families who spent many of the holidays together, sharing in the tasks, enjoying each other, laughing, dancing to 1940s music on the stereo. I craved that warmth and sense of belonging. Or, at least I thought that was what was missing.
It isn’t as though we don’t know how to have a houseful of company. We had over 100 at our holiday open house two weeks earlier, went to several other open houses over the weeks, had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with friends (note: we started with pumpkin martinis, and it got better as the evening went on), and celebrated Christmas Day with my mother.
I decorated. I wrote a Christmas letter. I shopped. I wrapped. I mailed. I baked. I cooked. I used old standby recipes and new ones. I made Christmas bark candy for the first time and it got rave reviews, while the tahini cookies from Bon Appetite turned to good tasting but crumbly sand in your mouth. There was a new version of the pineapple/Ritz/cheese casserole which is now a keeper (use chopped up chunks of cheese, not shredded) and a pumpkin Bundt cake with apples and cranberries that was OK, and will get better the next time I make it.
All of the activities are usually the bits and pieces that build to Christmas, but as December 25 came, existed, and went, somehow it wasn’t Christmas. Was it that I had just a couple of packages to unwrap? I didn’t think so. I do all the shopping for my husband and I and for my Mom. Packages had been arriving from the catalogs and since my items were clothes I didn’t bother to wrap them for myself.
So what was wrong? I think I found the answer and in an unlikely place. Facebook. A post by a friend. He posted a photo of a lovely dish of paella, sitting on a patio table. It was Christmas dinner for he and his wife. As I read it I had a sense of warmth. Waking up Christmas Day, hearing “Merry Christmas,” getting into robe and slippers and heading to the tree for packages and the mantle for stockings. Laughter, fun, surprise, appreciation. Maybe that was it.
I started thinking. We went to church on Christmas Eve. Then the dinner party. We got a good night’s sleep. When we got up on Christmas Day we dressed and I headed to the kitchen to prepare all the food we would take to my Mom’s to have for Christmas dinner. We packed the car and headed off. We had a nice time at Mom’s. dinner was fine. We came home. About 8:30 p.m. I mentioned to my husband that we had stockings hung over the mantle that we had not opened. Wait! 8:30 p.m. we opened stockings?
Thinking it through, step by step, event by event, the thing that was missing was the “magic” of Christmas morning. No surprise in a package. No grabbing stockings and to see what Santa had left. Was that it? Wasn’t that quite petty of me? I was upset over something I controlled, at least partially. Certainly I could have wished my hubby “Merry Christmas” when we woke up. I could have grabbed him by the hand, dragged him away from email, and made him look at his presents and stocking. Would that have been better? Who knows!
Still, all in all, it was the reality of Christmas as it has come to be, and perhaps like other seasons in life, it is what it is, and the best to do is to wake up December 25, say “So This Is Christmas” and face the wonderful day.
Every Day Is A Good Day. VJ

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