| Photo by Joseph O. Holmes, c/o 20×200 |
“It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.”
Moving into a new house two weeks before Christmas…hoo boy, what was I thinking?
I haven’t baked a single cookie, haven’t mailed a holiday card. My Christmas tree is safely ensconced in the mountain of boxes in my garage, where I suspect it will remain until next December.
By now, my kitchen should be bustling, filled with homemade caramels and kitschy tins of Chex Mix. Instead, the fact that I can see my countertops feels like the greatest Christmas miracle of all.
The Hubs and I decided to skip gifts this year. The two of us are spent, in every possible sense of the word. I can’t even find the energy to choose towel bars, let alone pick out a gift that shows him how much I appreciate the unfathomable amounts of time, energy and patience he’s put into making this house perfect. (Lesson One: no house is perfect, not ever.)
In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t bought a gift. Period. Not for anyone. It’s almost unthinkable.
And yet… Somehow, even without ribbons and tags, Christmas creeps in. In between the mountains of stresses and boxes and drama, it shows up in the most surprising ways.
It’s different without presents, without a tree, without my grandmother’s Nutcracker on the mantle. It’s quieter. More subtle and soft – peripheral, almost. But it’s there. And every so often, I catch a glimpse.
A dear friend drove an hour out of her way to bring me a miniature tree her adorable daughters helped her decorate for me. And as the Hubs and I wandered Union Square one evening last weekend, I watched a half dozen strangers drop their shopping bags on the sidewalk to rush to the rescue of a car that broke down in the middle of the busiest street in downtown San Francisco. For anyone who’s ever lived in a big city, if that isn’t a Christmas miracle, I don’t know what is.
And speaking of Christmas miracles… Slowly but surely, just as all of you promised me it would, this house is becoming home. The pile of boxes is shrinking, and the pile of checkmarks on my to-do list is growing. Last night, I finally cooked dinner in our new kitchen (oh, do I love it!), and when I was done, I realized the smell of fresh paint had given way to the smell of fresh-baked cornbread.
I miss the usual holiday fanfare, I can’t deny it. But this quieter Christmas has its charms. Curling up on the sofa to watch a movie in between loads of laundry. Getting a quick fix of carols on the car radio between errands. Anxiously awaiting the fireplace installation, in the hopes that St. Nick will see a gas log flickering in our hearth.
However your holiday comes to you this year, my friends – whether it’s filled with sugarplum fairies and tinsel or whether Christmas morning brings nothing more than a quiet cup of tea with someone you love – I wish you joy. So very, very much joy, and a new year filled with possibility. Over these last ten years, you all have brought me more joy and more possibility than you’ll ever know, just by being your amazing selves. I’m profoundly grateful, today and every day, for the love and support you’re never shy about sharing with me.
Happy holidays, my friends – whatever you celebrate. May they be merry and bright, and filled with love.