By Amy Coward
Cars are no longer decorated with wreaths and reindeer noses. Our holiday decor is packed up in red and green containers. The last of my cookies have been gobbled up or given away and there’s a 1/4 cup of eggnog in the fridge.
The holidays are over and like most years, I’m wondering, “Can I have a do-over?” Despite my best laid plans, I somehow feel that my celebration didn’t quite measure up to the Publix commercials.
It’s probably all the hype. Who can compete with the couples who bought matching trucks as “a little something for Black Friday”? Or all the photos on Facebook of families celebrating in wintry locations like the Colorado or New York? Even on a smaller scale, I didn’t manage to get my whole family in matching Christmas pajamas or smiling and hugging while we prepared Christmas dinner. Nope. None of that happened.
We didn’t play raucous games or flip through photo albums to reminisce. We didn’t build the gingerbread house I bought or buy each other lavish gifts. We didn’t decorate cookies together.
My Christmas celebration was a flop. But in all reality, my Christmas was probably the norm. Our turkey was a little dry. I forgot to buy rolls. My cookies were crumbly. My greenery on the mailbox died. The lights on my porch tree quit working. I caught a cold. And the constant dish-washing just made me sigh.
Where was the singing carols around the piano? Where was the white elephant gift exchange? And why didn’t we build that gingerbread house?
Because. Because we just didn’t get around to it.
The GREAT part of Christmas, though, was all my children were home. And my three (count ‘em – three!) new grandsons were there, smiling and cooing and charming us all afternoon. We watched videos of a trail race my son is doing soon and we ate too many sweets. We talked and ate and talked some more. We played with the babies. We were together.
The lesson for me should be that this is enough. I need to disconnect from the television and social media portrayal of a perfect holiday and be present for my own, whatever form it takes.
I’ve got 11 months to get my head on straight. I’ve got 11 months to remember no one in the real world buys matching trucks for Christmas (do they?) and that very few people have a Hallmark Christmas. In fact, many people don’t get to celebrate at all. I’ve got 11 months to recognize that having us all around the table – if only for a little while- is the best Christmas (or any day) ever.
So for Christmas 2020, I’m going to try to relax and have more realistic expectations. I’m going to try not to worry so much about perfect food, perfect décor and gift-giving. I’m going to try to enjoy the day for what it is –time with family.
But we might at least have matching pajamas.
Happy New Year!
Amy Coward is a public relations professional in Columbia, SC. When she is not managing the madness of event planning at Palmetto Health Foundation, she is writing, running and traveling.