By Sue Murphy
I started my Christmas decorating early this year. I think if I could have gotten away with it, I would have put up my tree shortly after the Fourth of July.
It’s not that I think Santa is going to bring me a pony or an air fryer. It’s just that I’ve been ready (more than ready) to “be there,” to be smack dab in the middle of Christmas.
I spent last Christmas alone. A string of tag-team COVID exposure quarantines kept my family apart. We made the best of it, of course. That’s what we do.
On Dec. 24, I left gifts and our traditional holiday ham on my daughter’s porch and waved to my grandchildren through the window. On Christmas Day, my friends showed up in my driveway with a Christmas toast. We stood more than six feet apart in the cold and lifted our glasses to our friendship. I have to admit, there were a few tears here and there. But in another way, it was all wonderful, a resilient Whoville response to a situation beyond our control. Even better, all of my family’s COVID tests came back negative, and we were able to ring in the New Year with higher hopes.
But this year … this year … I am daring to hope we can all celebrate together. I have learned not to take anything for granted, but with all of our troop being vaccinated, I am keeping a good thought.
Christmas, as far as the calendar is concerned, is only a single day, but that wasn’t going to cut it for me this year. I needed more. Way more. Like it or not, being resilient wears on you. This year, I wanted to binge watch Christmas movies weeks and weeks early, to make a double batch of gingerbread cookies, and yes, to put up the tree on an unseasonably early day.
So far, I’ve driven through every fast-food establishment that offers anything with the word “peppermint” in it. I’ve sung Christmas carols at the top of my lungs. (Not at the same time. I didn’t want people to worry.)
This week, I’m going to drive around and see people’s Christmas lights, happy knowing that I’ve put up a few of my own. I’ll look forward to finding Christmas cards in my mailbox and smile because I’ve given the same experience to my family and friends.
It’s wonderful, every bit of it, and I don’t think you can start all that wonder too early. We need all the Christmas we can get. I did not rush the season. I simply chose to make my Christmas circle a little bigger, to lovingly include Thanksgiving and any other days that were standing outside looking in.
Thanksgiving was a wonderful Christmas circle addition. Being reminded to be thankful for all that wonder? Brilliant. In fact, some of that thankfulness will come in mighty handy during those inevitable frantic, gimme-gimme days that take the joy out of your sails.
This year, God willing, I will be thankful to watch my grandchildren open their presents on Christmas morning, not on FaceTime like last year. I will be grateful for the laughter and the chaos and the noise. And late that night, I will sit on the couch and smile, just smile, thankfully happy to be there.
And so, that is what I wish for you this year. Have a wonderful, thankful Christmas. Make your circle bigger and stand right smack dab in the middle. Be there with each other. Be there for each other. Be there with a thankful, happy heart.