A Gentle Christmas

This pre-Christmas season was different for me than many of its predecessors. We did many of the same activities, but they felt different to me. The activities felt less dramatic and frantic. It was not a bad thing. My life coach would be very happy to hear that the difference was that I was more inclined to immerse myself in each exquisite, sensual, joyful moment instead of seeing the whole totality of Christmas cheer as one, interwoven, overwhelming monolith of mood. In the past, each of these activities, conversations, experiences precariously balanced on the success or failure of the one before it.  Each holly jolly moment had to be “just so” to keep the Christmas monolith from crumbling onto my heart like an avalanche of disappointment. If I skipped something that has always been part of Christmas in my life, or if I did not imbue some gift with a manic level of sentimentality and sparkle, or if some Noel bell rang hollow for some reason- Christmas would be a failure and I would be left in the holiday wasteland for another year.

This year, I savored each Christmas theme park. I let each Christmas treat I ate sit on my taste buds. I threw myself into activities that brought me pleasure in the moment and skipped events that I typically do only because “I always do them.” I entertained people that I love, when it was convenient for me and for all of them. I bought and made presents that I believe brought joy to the recipients. If I did not find something that spoke to me for a certain person, I did not despair. I decorated my Christmas trees with ornaments that made me happy and did not worry that my “elegant tree” was no longer elegant.  In fact, the lack of elegance did not even register with me until I mentioned it to someone else.  I did the decorating over several days; thus avoiding the exhaustion and panic I often feel. I went to bed tired but had refreshing sleep nearly every night. I wrote Christmas cards strictly for the purpose of bringing pleasure and connection, not because I “had to” because other people would send them to me. In fact, I recognized that my Christmas card list was a trifle arduous and decided to do something different throughout 2024 to make my greetings more personal and effective.

The season seemed to go quickly, but it did not feel rushed. I was always looking forward to the next seasonal delight… but I was not looking forward to it until the current one was finished. I’m not sure what has changed for me, but whatever it was made the period between mid-November and Christmas extremely enriching and enjoyable. I was musing about this a week or so before Christmas. For the past five years or so, we have either gone to friends for Christmas dinner or had people come to our house. This year, our little family of friends is somewhat scattered. I originally thought to invite people over but decided against it. I had a bit of a health challenge (everything is great now, by the way!) which took up a lot of energy. As Christmas approached, though, I was starting to feel a little “meh” because I had no festive party planned. I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel when the day rolled around with nothing on my dance card.

I did end up inviting another couple to come for dinner on December 22. We festived ourselves silly. It really did feel like a Christmas gathering. However, I still wondered how I was going to feel about a “quiet Christmas.”

As it turned out, Max and I had a wonderful Christmas together. On Christmas Eve, I went to the Sunday morning church service. Max met me and another couple from our family of friends at a local restaurant for brunch. After enjoying some food, fun, and fellowship, we went our separate ways. Max and I opened Christmas presents later in the day, drove around looking at Christmas lights in our development, and watched our traditional Christmas Eve movie- Little Women. The next day, we attended Christmas morning church service during which our deacon delivered the sermon. In my family of origin, we opened gifts on Christmas Day after going to church. Each year, my mother, who has been deceased for seven Christmases buys us each a present. We opened our presents from my mother after Christmas morning service. I watched the Christmas Eve service from my church so I could hear the choir sing and my pastor preach. Later, we watched football and just hung out with each other. We ended the day watching another traditional movie for us- Therese: The Story of Saint Therese of Lisieux. 

When people ask how my Christmas was, I could say “nice, but quiet.”  However, that is not quite correct. I think it is more accurate to say, “nice, but gentle.”  I found a lot of joy this Christmas season. It was not noisy and loud, but it was audible and profound. I connected with many of my traditions in a way that did not feel forced. I let go of traditions that do not nurture me. I planted myself firmly in moments of wonder and excitement. I did not hop, jump, or dodge from one glob of fun to the next. I found myself steeping emotion and meaning into each moment instead of slapping a slipshod coat of sentimentality over timeslots as I rushed to make my next “appointment” with happiness. The monolith is not one, fungible tankard of Christmas cheer. When you take a step back, that monolith is a mosaic made up of dozens and dozens of individual, beautifully crafted moments and experiences. 

I slept in heavenly peace this Christmas season because I had a gentle Christmas.

How would you describe your Christmas? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Blessed Christmas!

Terri/Dorry 😊

2 thoughts on “A Gentle Christmas”

  1. I love this for you! As you know, the whole month of December is difficult for me. This year, I let go of some things, said no to a few others and tried not to feel pressured to do everything. I felt like the time went by quickly and yet I, too was trying not to rush the season. I guess I’m trying to just be peaceful.

    1. Peace is a great gift! I hope you find it this holiday season and throughout the coming year! Love you

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