Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A week in the life of a Christmas elf

Years ago, when my kids were small, I would run myself ragged, trying to create the most perfect Christmas for them.  It seemed important that the tree was trimmed just so, the mound of presents was enticing, and the food good and plentiful.  This was based on what I thought were perfect Christmases as I was growing up – my mom was an exceptional Christmas elf.  The house was always beautifully decorated, the baking aromas leading up to the Big Day were to die for, and everything seemed effortless.  Little did I know that it would take her weeks to recover after every season – she hid it well.  I tried to live up to her reputation and in my mind’s eye, I didn’t quite cut it.  This led me to sleepless nights, worry about finances, anxiety attacks (one so devastating that we had to cancel our own plans so I could go home to Mom so she could look after me!).  In this mode, I would get through Christmas with a smile on my face, and a deep longing in my heart for something more meaningful and less weighty.

Since Duncan’s passing, my Christmas experience includes moments of missing his antics and his tender gift giving, and I have trouble listening to and singing certain carols which remind me of him (especially if the words have anything to do with a mother kissing a tiny boy’s head). This is not to say that I haven't had some beautiful Christmas moments with Sean and my family and  dear friends.  I treasure that immensely.

But I am noticing something quite different this year.  

Let me tell you about my week that just was.  It began with a Christmas event last Sunday where my spiritual community spent the entre day putting on a worship service, enjoyed some silent time, had enough food to feed a small country, lots and lots of singing – an early Christmas Day spent with lovely people.  It was sprinkled with mishaps and tears and at the same time, a wonderfully healing day. I was heavily involved for months prior, and yet unlike other years, I didn’t collapse into a state of exhaustion.  I couldn’t.  My week was just beginning.

The next day saw me at a friend’s early Christmas dinner party, where this time I was simply the lucky recipient of some fabulous food.  Okay, so I made some appetizers, but that was it.  Next was the local residents’ association and their Christmas dinner.  I helped a bit with this one, but my main job was to help make sure the food was enjoyed.  No problem with that task.  Wednesday, my class, and Thursday a business event which was again, centered around incredible food.  I was a bit more involved with this one as I was helping on the fund-raising side of things.  (Did I mention the food was amazing?)

On Friday, while I didn’t have any social commitments, my cottage needed some attention – it looked like a bomb had gone off inside and I was having people over the next evening for a progressive appetizer party. I needed to tidy up, decorate, finish putting the lights up, and prepare some goodies for my fellow cottagers. At the same time, I had to learn a bunch of new songs as it seemed the party I was going to the following night had a live band with a missing harmony singer.  I was invited to sit in with this 7-piece band.  I hadn’t met any of them before, nor did I know most of their repertoire so it behooved me to go to a sound check and short rehearsal after work/before my own party.  You get the picture.  It was an action-packed Saturday to be sure.

Sunday I decided to sleep in.  Maybe do a little shopping for myself.  Take a little break.  Well, I started out to do some errands, and it didn’t go well.  Everywhere I went, they didn’t have what I was looking for.  Clearly I wasn’t meant to be anywhere but in my cozy little cottage, watching the Grinch, fire alight, all my Christmas decorations twinkling, with a pile of leftover appetizers within arm’s reach, and my knitting project close by should I be able to summon up the energy to hold the needles and create Christmas booties for my darling little godson, Hugo. It was a lovely day, although I admit to a few tears when the Grinch’s heart grew three times its size…

Why do I tell you all this?  I’m actually helping myself realize that Christmas isn’t defined by how busy one is or isn’t, or by exhausting all one’s resources to “produce” the yearly holiday event.  For me, it is a state of being.  I can have it whether I’m at a day-long function with lots to do or sitting in front of my fire by myself, relishing a much-loved Dr. Seuss story.  I am at peace with this Christmas thing.  I’m not just trying to get through it. 

Authentically yours,

Buns (with Christmas bells on!)

P.S. I can’t wait until Christmas Day’s post… I have a wonderful story for you!  And it doesn’t hurt that I’m off to Hawaii three days later!  Adventure awaits!


  1. LOVVVVVVVVVed this.....so nicely written....made me all gooshy inside.
    Me xo

  2. Thanks for this Christie. It's really good to hear about your conscious choices around this emotional time. I have opted for a Christmas in Australia, miles from everything familiar for obvious reasons! I am not ready to engage in any old traditions - yet. The time will come when I reengage in new ways but it all takes time and gentleness to find that peace and joy once again. Glad you're well on your way :) Becky x