“Get ready, ladies. The opening bell rings on the traditional start of the Christmas Season with the dawning of this Friday after Thanksgiving.
It is time to clean the china and polish the silver. Time to wash, dust, vacuum, mop, possibly refinish, both the house and yourself. Drag out the decorations, buy decorations, put up decorations, find and haul out all the wrapping paper, ribbons and tags you bought on sale last year, along with those wonderfully priced Christmas cards, decide that none of those will do and buy more, write the annual family newsletter, address Christmas cards, stamp and mail Christmas cards….”
So opens my book Christmas Comes to Valentine. I smiled as I read it. I would swear that on the morning of Black Friday I did hear a gong as one would hear to start a race. As soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are cleaned away, it seems life picks up speed. Everyone seems to start scurrying. I don’t know about you, but I sense a change even in the air. Funny enough, here on the Gulf Coast, the temperature dropped and a brisk breeze blew for days, as if Mother Nature looked at her calendar and waved her hand over the world, saying, “Let’s get things moving along.”
This Black Friday is the first time in a long time that I ventured out into the shopping melee. Yes, lots of people and traffic, but many smiles, too. You really can’t hurry Southerners too much. I enjoyed taking my granddaughter to Old Navy, where we walked through the doors and into the joy of a half-price sale.
Many people complain about all the commercialism of the Christmas season. Many of us act as if we are put-upon at this time of year to find gifts and wrap them (yes, sometimes I catch myself with these thoughts), and the hours spent on our feet baking homemade goodies, because heaven forbid we buy them. What will people say? And what if we don’t knock ourselves out to get every single person a gift, and have ready, as some really organized people do, a gift ready for someone who pops into our life? Then there are Christmas cards. Some of us already have them sent! There is the dragging of all the decorations from closets and attics, knowing we will be required to put it all back come January. My hat is off to those industrious souls who drape Christmas lights on their house, ala Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie that has become a season favorite of just about everyone in the world. There is so much truth and laughter in that film.
My life has changed. I no longer spend hours and hours in the kitchen baking for Christmas. I do bake special treats I still enjoy (now all gluten-free) eating and giving to family. Pies are a favorite. Do you ever have pie for breakfast at this time of year? My dish to contribute for a party has become fruit salad; it is festive, and here in the South it is considered ambrosia, a seasonal classic. I have the ingredients right now, ready for a moment’s notice.
Not that I am in any way organized. I still have the Thanksgiving door decoration up. Perhaps this weekend I’ll get more decorations dragged out, or not. I will have a tree—even living alone now, I still expend the energy to have a tree, which has meant so much from childhood. I think my mother can be blamed for this sentimentality. It will be a live tree—and will go on the screened porch. I want to make cleaning easy for myself these days.
Darlings, I love Christmas cards, but mine are still not written. There have been years when I didn’t get them mailed until Christmas Eve.
Today I no longer get worked up and in a hurry over everything that needs to be done. I have learned to keep my problems in their true perspective. I have come to appreciate what others consider commercialism of the season. Isn’t it wonderful that people enjoy this time of year so much that we rush headlong into it? We rush it because we all need this season of aiming at Love. That’s what all the scurrying and buying and decorating to out-do the neighbor is all about. Yes, it is a given that we will fall short in our aim. Just the other day in traffic I said a few strong words. But here we all are aiming and hoping and doing our best to enjoy the precious season of love and to share it.
Sharing it is what it is all about. I look out my office window just now and see, in the bright warm sunlight right next to a palm tree, the figure of a waving snowman in my neighbor’s front yard. That is their effort to share Christmas. It makes me smile. Our buying and giving and singing is all sharing.
Years ago I read a quote that I never forgot. I had to wrack my brain and search and finally found it in an old book that I bought used at what was then the Crawford Book Mine in 1975 in Jacksonville, Florida. The book was published in 1960, Testament of Trust, by Faith Baldwin. Perhaps some of you remember her. In it she wrote of Christmas:
“Ignore the fact that your feet do hurt and maybe your head aches, too, and you haven’t the slightest idea of how you’ll get through the next few days. You’ll get through them. You always have, haven’t you?” ~Faith Baldwin
I have taken those words of truth, ‘You’ll get through…you always have, haven’t you?’ with me through many situations. They give comfort and joy.
The Christmas season, with all the world has made of it, is a gift. Keep your eyes open to see these gifts and enjoy it all. Don’t let anything keep you from it.
I send you love.