I used to love the holidays...our family always celebrated the secular aspects of the Christmas season with great enthusiasm. We did the tree, the decorations, the presents, the baking. In my memory, a lot of our holiday activities centered around my mom & sister & I getting crafty & creative--from iced sugar cookies, to pine cone ornaments and cross-stitched stockings, we embraced all the cheesiness of an American Christmas & our home in December looked no different than that of all our non-immigrant neighbors, minus the nativity. When I think upon this now, I realize how much effort & thought my mother had to put forward to make this happen; as an immigrant from a country that did not celebrate Christmas, I know she did this all for us.
As I grew up, the intense excitement leading up to Christmas day & the opening of the presents under the tree certainly faded...but my love of the season continued. What's not to love about twinkly lights brightening the darkest days? The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting out of coffee and cookies? "It's a wonderful life" and "The Christmas Story" on TV? The end of December isn't just about Christmas, its about the turning of the year, marked by the calendar and by nature. Its the end of the semester (and the fiscal quarter), a break in the routine, a time to focus on family & friends.
But once I stopped being able to slow down and be with family & friends (I worked 4 out of 4 Christmas Days during residency) my enthusiasm for this time of year was hard to keep up. It doesn't help that my husband is a bit of a grinch. When I met him, it was my waning enthusiasm up against his staunch negativity. I think it was the family obligations and general abundance of tackiness (this was Texas, ya'll) that led to his distaste of the festive season. Our first few years together, I tried to overcome his influence, but I've since succumbed.
I want to change this. I'm tired of apathy & negativity killing all the joy in life & I've decided to put some work & caring into this holiday season. I've put up the tree & the wreath, and I'm hunting for ornaments. I want my kids to experience the love, excitement and magic that I recall from my childhood. And as I sit in front of the tree, looking at the twinkly lights, and smelling the gingerbread baking in the oven, I realize I also want to experience it again myself.