Sunday, December 23, 2012

Simply Wonderful Time of the Year

This Christmas season, I’ve enjoyed driving around and seeing the elaborate light displays. It seems that some people add to their displays each year and just when you think they can’t cram one more display on their lawn they go and prove you wrong.

“I think I found where the Griswolds live,” I told my son a few weeks ago.

“Was it on Highway 50, toward the edge of town?” he asked.

“Yes! I thought they lived on Highway H, but now I’ve decided this is where they live.”

This weekend, I saw a special on TV about people who spent months setting up their Christmas lights. These are people that had miles and miles of electric lights, homemade displays, and fuse boxes that looked like they would serve a small city. They involved their entire family in the elaborate annual productions. One of the kids made a statement that made me realize the motivation behind this way overboard lighting exhibition. “I thought working on the lights was perfectly normal and that everyone did it,” one of the girls said. I guess if this is how someone wants to celebrate the holidays, more power to them. Literally. 

Maybe part of the reason I don’t quite “get” these elaborate celebrations is because when I grew up, Christmas was a simpler holiday. We had a cedar tree with a few strands of garland, popcorn strung on thread, icicles, and colorful bulbs. I can remember being really worried if we didn’t have snow because I was afraid Santa wouldn’t be able to get his sleigh to our house.

Some people become almost frantic to spread the joy at Christmas time, while others feel like they are letting their families down because they can’t seem to find the appropriate “happy holidays” feeling.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to accept is that you can’t force someone to have an elaborate or happy holiday because that is how it has always been for you. Over the many Christmases I’ve seen in my lifetime, I’ve had good holidays and sad holidays, white Christmases and blue Christmases.

I think my peace with the holidays came with modifying my expectations. I’ve found that if I expect the holiday to be something extraordinary, I may be disappointed. If I expect it to be a time of peace and restfulness, and that is what happens, I’m perfectly content.

Holidays at our house changed with Jim’s dementia. I learned that we had to keep the holidays simpler to keep from upsetting him. A lot of glitz and holiday cheer would leave him confused and looking for the photos I had put away. We learned to adapt.

Simpler holidays fit into my plans better too. As a caregiver, I was tired all the time. It was hard to muster up the energy to do all the little things that I had done in the past. I found alternate ways of celebrating the holidays when I couldn’t spend hours shopping. I started buying certificates of deposit for my grandkids’ education. Years of putting money aside began to pay off this year when my oldest grandson began college.

During this holiday season, if you are a caregiver, give yourself the gift of a simpler holiday. Do the things you love to do and skip the things you do just because it’s expected. If you’d rather stay home and watch old Christmas movies and drink eggnog or a cup of cocoa, hey, that’s what you should do. Don’t let others “guilt” you into making the holiday something that doesn’t work for you anymore. If you want to buy cookies instead of baking from scratch, then do it. But if you love making sugar cookies or homemade candy, then find time for it or recruit help so that it more enjoyable.

One of the things that we enjoyed doing even after Jim was in the nursing home was to load up and drive through some of the light displays set up at the state school. Of course, we were always looking for the Griswolds too. As for me, I plan to have a simply wonderful Christmas time. I want to relax, enjoy, and be selfish in celebrating the holidays in my own way.

My Christmas wish for you is that you celebrate the holidays in a way that brings peace and joy in your heart.

Copyright © December 2012 by L.S. Fisher


Latane Barton said...

I like the way you are celebrating Christmas.. I have learned that more simple is better. I sure hope you find joy and peace today and every day.

Kathy Siggins said...

I believe the Griswolds visit my house every Christmas in Mt. Airy.