The Christmas Spirit: “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” -Roy L. Smith

I am one lucky girl.

There are the very obvious heavy hitters – health, two wonderful families, being married to the best husband/friend/partner a girl could ask for. I am blessed with a job I love, even in spite of a few harrowing days back in August when our shiny new website disappeared into the Cyberspace Abyss and I spent an inordinate amount of time practically hunched up in the fetal position rocking myself back and forth sucking my thumb. Adam peeled me off the floor and promised that everything would be okay (said with complete conviction that it would be even better than it was before and like always, I should have listened to him because he was absolutely right). Even in the face of those few scary days, I know how lucky I am. Lucky that the people whose charge was to fix our website problems had the integrity and the resources to do just that in record time – and done with such grace of spirit you rarely see anymore in this dog-eat-dog race. You’re good people, Christiane and Doug…so, thank you.

Yes, I am lucky. Or maybe I have just learned to be grateful in a way I never have before – the holidays always seem to have that effect on me. So, instead of seeing the challenges and the limitations of my life (well, with that one exception – see above), I am actually happier than ever. I get to sit here and type away my letters to you (that’s actually how I feel – like we’re old friends having a conversation over a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine) while staring out at the incomparable beauty surrounding our home. But, even with all these things for which I am deeply grateful, this Christmas has been a little wonky for both Adam and me.

It just hasn’t “felt” like the holidays, although I decorated our house right after Thanksgiving – red velvet bows, a frightening number of boughs of holly, enough twinkly lights to rival Clark Griswold in this movie. And bonus! Everything electrical – lamps, lighted garlands, the tree – all on one remote! Trust me, this is an engineering marvel of which I am exceedingly proud and one that I have been perfecting since 2007. And one that I show off to unsuspecting guests as a shameless self-appreciating party trick. Push a button and everything goes completely dark. Push another button and gasp! you can probably see our humble abode from space as the lights return.

All the glorious decorations, multiple viewings of Miracle on 34th Street, and numerous cookie baking marathons notwithstanding, it just hasn’t “felt” like Christmas for either one of us. Perhaps it’s because the month of December was uncommonly warm with an average high temperature pushing into the 50’s. Maybe it’s because we’ve been too busy to catch our breaths, let alone relax and reflect on the true meaning of the season. And, now, I’m looking at my watch incredulously, wondering, “Where in the world did the time go?” Christmas is a mere few days away and, believe it or not, there’s not even one single present under our tree. This is unheard of in our household. Every year since 1995, Adam and I race to see who can claim bragging rights to The First Present of the Season. He says he “won” but I’m like, “Dude, if it’s not wrapped and under the tree, it doesn’t count.”

I even caught myself the other day uncharacteristically sour and surly after several stressful and unfruitful hours of shopping, to which Adam (a.k.a.Pollyanna) reminded me that Christmas is not about presents. It’s about being together.

He’s right, of course (once again), which made me feel even worse that I briefly fell under the Scrooge spell.

But, today, all that changed. When I opened my eyes this morning and looked out our bedroom window, I gazed on a mantle of white. Blustery winds whistled through the trees and spun big, fat snowflakes in magnificent circles. I smiled and sighed as this Ray Charles’ song popped in my head:

Down through the ages
Round this time of year
People’s hearts all a-glow
Yuletide carols fill the air with cheer
While children laugh and play out in the snow
Lights on Christmas trees
And snowflakes fallin’ down
What a lovely site to see
You will always know when Christmas time is near
You feel the need to be in harmony
‘Cause Christmas time is really more than givin’
It’s spreading all the news of peace and love.

Peace and love. Amen, Ray. Amen.

On Christmas morning, I’ll offer up a prayer of thanks and gratitude for food on our table, a warm fire blazing brightly, the cozy home we share and two hearts filled with immense love and happiness.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas.

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