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Some years I want a big ol’ tree, threatening to roll from the roof of the car, jammed through our front door to graze my front room ceiling. Sometimes no tree at all, or a modest five footer reflecting a mood subdued.
Seems like years I don’t much care, another's house is all tricked out. Neighbors with an animated, blow-up Santa waving from across the street. Down the lane now sits a life-sized, plastic manger scene. It has lights inside and glows. Bring your sunglasses if you plan on going near. Poor folks with a bedroom window facing it can't sleep without their black-out blinds.
For Christmas I’ve baked for days conjuring cookies Martha Stewart couldn’t match. Held Open House parties for scores. Among tables filled with food I placed exotic cheeses with handmade little elves holding the names of each.
Whipped up a dozen desserts to make a house full drool. Candy and fudge, bread puddings, pies and cake. Don't forget the cannoli.
The epitome of a holiday hostess.
Other seasons I haven’t wanted to open a red envelope. No delight in twinkling lights.
I’ve worn sparkles and sequins and black satin heels that lifted me in towering celebration. I’ve attended Christmas dinner in my jeans only because I couldn’t wear pajamas.
I’ve been quiet and loud, and both in a season that started slow and ended with unexpected cheer. I’ve dined with kin and friends and invited strangers to join in deafening family dinners where we couldn’t all fit at the table. And we four only have sat together closely happy to have each other.
I was thrilled when in honor of my newborn boy a Baby’s First Christmas ornament glimmered from a our stately tree in a home his father and I built for our growing family. I’ve mourned losses on first Christmases without those I never imagined would be gone.
I’ve spilled tears at wrenching lyrics of a favorite Christmas song and sung exuberantly in choruses performing Handel’s Messiah, a wide grin upon my face.
I’m sure of it. Christmas carries a different tone and texture every year it passes. Sometimes it's subtle. A small shift in hue. Other times a sea change.
No matter how I’m feeling, or how involved my circle wants to be, there are those among us who create a special annual gift by decorating right out of their minds. While I attempt to calculate the cost in hours and dollars I know there is no measuring the joy they bring as we travel their streets in awe.
Last night we walked a special avenue not far from our place. Packed with pedestrians, cars and bicycles. Kids squealed and ran ahead to the next electric tableau, adults ooohed and ahhhed. Husbands dutifully nodded as wives suggested, “Maybe next year?”
So this is a shout out to those of you who generously provide gifts of beauty and wonder in our neighborhoods. You endure the traffic, mind the blown out lights, clean up after messy admirers, spend hours taking displays down in January, store boxes (and boxes) all year, and make it even better for us next time. Thank you for keeping our spirits alive when we do and don’t do it for ourselves. Thanks for your passion and commitment to making the holiday bright.
Thank you, thank you.