Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Little Bit More

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, 
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? 
It came without ribbons. It came without tags. 
It came without packages, boxes or bags. 

And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

                     --- Dr. Seuss

Over the years I have done some extravagant Christmas decorating. Not the kind that would net me on the Home and Garden Channel's extreme home shows, but more than the average person does. I think I've created some really beautiful trees. I love to decorate, send cards, entertain and do all of the things some people deem "shallow" at Christmas time. 

For the past couple of years I wasn't able to do my usual decorating and this year I was planning to go all out. But, circumstances beyond anyone's control resulted in a change of plans. So, I went from quite extravagant decorating with at least one tree in every room, to not having even a simple tree this year - a first for me. But, it was the best thing for me this year. 

But, it seemed to surprise a couple of people that I was still in a holiday mood. I was singing carols, looking at lights, enjoying being a Secret Santa at K-Mart, and being my generally bubbly, Christmas-loving, self. 

It was only after the third person in my world mentioned to me how great it was that I was enjoying the holiday season, even though I didn't have a tree up, that I realized I've never explained how it works for me. I enjoy Christmas every day of the year. 

I always leave at least one Christmas thing out all year because I think every day needs a little Christmas in it. I was so touched when I learned my friend, Matthew, had adopted this sentiment as well and always had a little Christmas out. One of the things I leave out all the time in a tiny nativity I bought when we were in El Salvador together. 

Christmas to me isn't about the trees, the matching packages with pretty ribbon, and the stacks of cards. It's not about the beautiful light displays and the wonderful music. Those are just visible manifestations of the spirit of Christmas. And they're reminders to me - and everyone else - that we are going to take a few moments and pause and rejoice and sing and gather and celebrate.

Because they serve as wonderful reminders of the beauty of the Christmas spirit, I find them enriching. I don't find them shallow. I don't find them commercial. I don't find them crass. The trees, lights, cards, treats and all the rest remind me of the less tangible things about the holiday season. They remind me to think of others when I send their cards or put an ornament on the tree that they gave to me. It's an opportunity to gather with people and make their favorite treats. The beauty of all those ornaments together on the trees reminds me that life is a tapestry, and Christmas is a time to appreciate and celebrate that. All of these things are a physical manifestation of love. And that is what Christmas is to me - celebrating love. Can I do it without those things? Yes. Is it intensified with them? Yes.

I often decorate early, so by December I can just enjoy the holiday season fully. But, it's when everyone else is joining in that it is magnified. What people celebrate may vary, but most of us celebrate something this season. Most will choose gifts for loved ones. They'll be thinking of others. 

While I missed my tree, and I hope 2012 offers the chance to do lots of decorating and cards and all, I already know what the Grinch learned on the mountain that day - Christmas will come regardless.

In fact, it's already here... 

And I intend to keep Christmas, because I find it to embody the best of human nature. 


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Kim said...

I loved this. It was beautifully written, and I know it's true, even though I have a tendency to get caught up in the things that "have" to be done so everyone gets their favorite candy or treat or has the "perfect" Christmas. But that's truly not what it's about. Thanks for a beautiful reminder. (And I've enjoyed your glimpses of Christmas past this month. I do believe you could quality for HGTV on a decorating year!) Merry Christmas all year, Patsy!

Patsy Terrell said...

Thank you, Kim. I'm flattered when you think my writing is good because you are a wonderful writer yourself! I don't think it's such a horrible thing to want everyone to have their favorite treat, or whatever it is. There's a beauty in caring about others that is unlike any other. And that's really what you're doing - thinking of others. If it were in any other context, people would think it a selfless act, but for some reason when it's the holiday season someone is always ready to point out that it's shallow or not what the season is about. I contend it is exactly what the season is about - caring - and being reminded to do so. By standards of the world, Americans lead extravagant lives, and I understand that. But, I refuse to let someone make me believe that the fact that I like my packages to match makes me evil in some way. All of that ribbon and paper was bought at least 50% off. Could I spend the money better? Yes. Would I? No. There is nothing wrong with doing whatever makes YOU feel great and helps others do that same. That's part of Christmas to me. And I wish we had more Christmas all year long.