The past few months have presented some challenges, but we have weathered them fairly well. We got Mom all settled in her new home, at least until she takes on another major remodeling project scheduled for early in the new year. Almost every single weekend, and several week nights, for the past few months have been spent working on something for Mom: moving boxes, painting, installing things, and creating a home for Mom from what was previously just a quaint little house. Now it is truly Mom’s home. I have no regrets. It has been a labor of love, a time-crunched, muscle aching, labor of love for a woman who has spent a lifetime giving to others. In the meantime, with our demanding careers, much of what we normally do has been lost in the mix, especially with Christmas rapidly approaching.
For the first time ever we don’t have a Christmas card to send out. Ever since our first child was born 24 years ago we have done a family photo card. It has been an enjoyable tradition for us. We have had fun looking back at our annual Christmas photos to watch how our daughters have grown, and friends and relatives have told us how much they enjoy it as well. This year, with the elder one off to launch her career in the big city and the younger one slammed with college senior year obligations and grad school applications, it has been impossible to put together a photo card. One daughter provided a photo, but the other did not, and using something from last summer just wasn’t appealing. So here we are with no card to send. Maybe we’ll take a picture when they’re home for Christmas and send a New Year’s card.
In addition, I have done very little shopping this year. Well, to be honest, I did some shopping online late at night. While I sincerely love to support local merchants, I also sincerely have had no time to spend going from store to store and perusing merchandise to find just the right thing for each person on my list. So UPS and FedEx are my new best friends, otherwise there would be nothing under the tree Christmas morning.
Just last night I got groceries. I am certain it’s the first actual grocery shopping I have done since before Thanksgiving. When you add in a few extras for special Christmas treats, the large cart was very full and the cash register receipt was very long. But I think I’m prepared now to do a little cooking and baking this weekend, along with wrapping the few gifts we do have.
Last weekend we got a Christmas tree and dutifully put it up in the family room. I put lights on the tree, a tree skirt underneath, and a star on top. So far that’s about it. I told my husband we could go for the simple yet elegant look with no ornaments this year, but he just looked at me like I had lost my mind. I guess we’ll get around to that this weekend, too.
In a world where we feel pressure to have it all and do it all for Christmas, I am finding that simple can work. The few decorations we have at home are almost entirely made of live spruce and fir branches cut from our backyard trees and brought home for free when we bought the tree from a local nursery lot. Throw them in some containers with a few lights and pinecones, and they don’t look too bad.
The main items on my list right now include the gift of time. We will have time to spend with some friends during their annual holiday party this weekend. We will have time to spend with our daughters when they come home next week, and we will have time to spend with more friends and family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. None of it will be formal or overdone. All of it will include our gratitude for a year filled with people who make our lives complete.
So when you don’t receive a Christmas card from us this year, please don’t feel slighted. No one else got one either. Despite the lack of mailed greetings, we do wish each of you a wonderful holiday spent with your family and friends.