I have noticed that in removing the pressure of gifting, I have found space for enjoyment of the holiday season. I have discovered there is time for social gatherings and enjoying the company of my loved ones. I have removed the pressures of creating the perfect holiday setting with the decorations and lights and the tens of thousands of calories in baking that I certainly do not need to eat, but would if left to my own devices.
I have found joy in spontaneity and planned outings. I have frozen my toes just to spend two hours with a small circle of friends as we enjoyed the subzero temperature outdoor concert on the CP Holiday Train. We have those memories to share. Of finding a new restaurant and a wonderful new ginger cider. Of bonding and sharing. Of quality time without expectations.
I have five holiday parties planned just by my colleagues and employers…departmental, multidepartmental, corporate, family, and our own small staff. These things do not pressure me this year because all those other stressful components of the holidays are now gone.
Don’t misunderstand me, please. I do have some decorations up and I adore them. I have bought presents for my children. I have asked for them to please stop worrying that they cannot find a way to buy me a gift. I asked for them to create with what they have if they want to give, but that they themselves are the greatest gift I have or could ever get. I will bake cookies, but just two kinds and it will be a labor of love to be enjoyed with my children, not one where I scoot them out of the kitchen because they are underfoot.
The holidays are about people and joining together. Enjoying each other and giving back to the community and those in need. It’s supposed to last year long, but we all know that people tend to give more at the holidays than they do year round.
This year, I am truly enjoying the holiday season more than I have since being a young child and having all my extended family nearby for that wonderful multitable, multifamily Christmas dinner. That is what remains in my memories. It isn’t the gifts I was given. It was the people that I was with.