Holiday Life Lessons 1

The day after Christmas

…means different things to different people. Leftovers. Sales.  Sleeping in. Work.

As I sat, reminiscing about this holiday season compared to those gone by, I realized more has changed than the numbers on the scale and my shoe size.

Born in the 70’s, I was part of the “forced” gratitude era. Well, maybe not forced, but we were strongly encouraged to remember how much worse things could be. We also didn’t bother much with tantrums since they were so short lived. Why? Because the 70’s was also an era of spankings.

As Christmas approached, should moxie manage to override good sense, fear brought us back. Okay, maybe it was just me. My mother wasn’t one to repeatedly threaten, so if she got to, “Keep it up and I’m gonna take back every one of your gifts,” there was no reason to doubt her. I honestly can’t remember EVER waiting for “Santa.” My mother wanted us to know who REALLY had the power to shut down the gifts!

As I matured into my teens,

I usually assembled and decorated the tree. On Christmas Eve, I sat listening to the radio, with no other light besides the blinking tree, as family members went house to house exchanging loot. Then, in the wee hours of Christmas morning, we began the business of ripping open gifts.

I don’t remember exactly when I transitioned to someone who’s content watching hours of sappy, formulaic Christmas movies. But alas, I’m here.

As I watched this year, I got to thinking. Year after year, many approach Christmas with a formula. Traditions like serving the homeless, travel, pajama photos, stocking stuffing, traditional dinners, hilarious games, Christmas Eve brunch, or some other routine become the norm. Especially the decorations.

Me, I’m Team White Lights. I like a variety of ornaments, red velvet bows, wide ribbon, a star or bow as the topper, and lots of candy canes. Red and white only. While I love being surprised, I can’t keep a secret when it comes to gifts. I get too excited and often spill the beans with my obvious hints.

Meanwhile, my husband is Team Multicolored Lights. So as you can imagine, he also likes multicolored candy canes on the tree. (*clutches pearls*) He supposedly likes surprises, but asks leading questions and gets frustrated at me for “telling” when he figures it out. If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to be prepared for his trickery next year.

What did I learn by looking back?

Gratitude is teachable. And sustaining. Life changed a LOT for me over the years. Many times, I struggled with gratitude due to grief. But I always found ways to be thankful. Perhaps it came from being reared in the 70’s.

Being appreciative despite having to swap traditions because of changed circumstances helped sustain me through rough times. Including appreciating differences in the people around me. After all, we’re each as distinct as the many ways to decorate a Christmas tree. But, are our differences the main focus? No.

What each person brings to the room — food, laughter, love — adds life to the decor. After we ooh and aah over beautiful decorations, they’re forgotten as the “life” in the gathering unfolds. That’s the true beauty of this season. Once coveted gifts become part of our daily lives (Hello, new purse!), or are tossed aside (Goodbye, favorite toy), we remember it’s our friends and family who are the staples we don’t want to live without.

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