I broke a lifelong rule of mine this year.
I decorated our home for Christmas before Thanksgiving.
Four days before Thanksgiving.
And it felt really good.
So good, in fact, that I decided to do all the Christmas things as fast as possible.
Before December began, we had already walked around gardens lit up in Christmas lights complete with s’mores at the end, seen our local Christmas train display, cut out a few dozen paper snowflakes, and made a couple batches of cookies.
I’ve been done holiday shopping for weeks. Which has left time for, of course, more holiday shopping.
I’ve binged on Christmas music. Because “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear” I now know all the words to Carol of the Bells and I can sing it just as fast as you are supposed to. Last night we listened to a Kenny G-ified version of, well, I can’t even remember which song but you know you’ve overdone it when your search for more Christmas music makes you feel like you’re forever in an elevator.
I decorated my kids rooms for Christmas. They now have snowmen faces on their doors, complete with holly in their top hats. They have red and green pompoms woven with twinkly lights strung across the headboards of their beds.
I sent out holiday cards, for the first time since putting a family photo on your holiday card became a thing. The last time I sent Christmas cards, I bought a box from Target and addressed them while my now 7-year-old ogled the dangly animals on her newborn play mat. Since then, every year I’ve decided that filling the world with more paper, specifically paper with my family’s faces that people will toss in the recycling (hopefully) weeks after opening, was just about the silliest way to spend my time during a busy season.
This year, reaching out to friends and family in whatever way possible – actually in all the ways possible – feels anything but silly.
This year, the chaos of Christmas has felt restorative in a way that chaos shouldn’t ever be.
This year, also, the magic of the season has sparkled in our home in a way that it never has before and may never again. Every year since she could talk, I’ve worried that we’re at the peak of her belief. This year is no different except that this year, I know we’re closer than we’ve ever been. She believes so wholeheartedly right this very moment, so fully that her entire face lights up in the glow of the magic. Her childhood wonder is so perfect right now, so brilliant, that I can’t help but think of it as a star showing off in its final burst before fading completely. I’m less afraid of this now than I used to be but it has also given extra purpose to my frantic energy.
This year’s Christmas season saved me from post-election depression. It saved me from going another round with the biggest challenges and heartbreaks of my 2016. It saved me from quiet time with these things and delivered me into the blessed hustle and bustle.
But now here we are. Days from the one day whose approach sets this whole thing in motion. And I have no choice but to slow. The big events of the season are done. I’ll bake a few more batches of cookies. Continue my caroling binge. Attend to all of the details and sparkles and cherish the honor of creating magic for two of my favorite people in the world.
But I’ll also slow down. I told a friend last night that I’m afraid of the let down to come in January. That, absent a season of distraction, all the monsters I’ve been running from for a month will come at me hard. So, slowly, as the season comes to a close, I’ll let back in the things I’ve spent a month running from. And gear up to face the world beyond my twinkly lights, with it’s challenges, heartache, and needs, with fresh eyes, a strong heart, and the energy they’ll most definitely require.