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We need a little Christmas.

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics to that song?  I hadn't until this year.  The melody is contagiously upbeat, so I was surprised at the desperation hidden in that song when I finally took the time to listen to it.

The past several holiday seasons were lost on me.  I didn't even bother decorating or trying to get pumped up for the big day.  To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I’ve truly enjoyed Christmas.  Sure, I’ve had fun times, and I have good memories from holidays gone by, but I've felt more anxiety, dread, and regret than anything else.  This time of year always makes me second-guess the choices I’ve made in my life, and the last few years I haven’t been where I want to be – both literally and metaphorically.  As the holidays approached this year, I expected the same feelings and was prepared to muddle through the month of December with my usual balance of annoyance and indifference.

On Thanksgiving (actually, even before that), the Christmas commercials began without hesitation and I thought, “Oh great, here we go.”  But something strange happened:  Those commercials made me want to decorate my apartment.  No, really, every time a commercial came on I would think, “I should get a Christmas tree!”  (I think it was the Allstate Mayhem guy being a tree on the roof rack who inspired that.)  Naturally, I opted out of the tree because I didn’t feel like standing it back up every day after my cats climbed it and knocked it over, but I did make a special trip to buy some lights and other festive accoutrements.  I thought that would do it.

Not quite.  I found myself doing something that I’ve never done unsupervised before.  I baked!  Four different cookie recipes, eight eggs cracked (and yes, I added them one-by-one thanks to the baking lesson from my sis), six sticks of butter, I don’t even know how many pounds of flour and sugar, an unexpectedly high quantity of dried cranberries, two days at 350 degrees, a half a magnum of wine, one big stomachache, and now I have a stockpile of sweets that I’m not even going to eat.  My unsuspecting co-workers will be in need of some bigger pants!

Even that wasn't enough, though.  I started listening to Christmas songs online while I was at work.  That's when I picked up on the lyrics to "We need a little Christmas", and I realized it sounded quite familiar.  It had been so long since I've wanted to submerge myself in holiday hullabaloo, and I was actually enjoying it... but how long would it last?  So I did a lot of festive things with haste before my normal self had a chance to intervene and say, "Screw it, what's the point of all of this anyway?"

None of this makes sense to me.  I should be feeling the same apathy as I have in the past.  Why, you ask?  Because I live in a whole different state from my family.  Because friends have moved away.  Because I don’t have kids, nieces, or nephews to shower with presents.  Because I still share my bed with cats (and only cats).  Because It hasn't snowed a single flurry in Maryland (although maybe that’s not really a bad thing; I can always drive to the snow).  And let's not forget that I’m not religious anyway, so why this sudden Christmas spirit?

I have a theory.  It’s obvious and it’s hokey, but I think it’s the truth:  I’m hopeful, finally.  Things may not be where I want them to be, but at last I’m going in a different direction.  I have a better grip on reality (although that's not saying much), I have more control of my life, and I know that even though things aren’t perfect at the moment, they COULD be in the future.  I can’t remember the last Christmas when my life has had such potential, which is probably why I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed Christmas.

Even with hope, though, it feels fragile, as if it could break at any moment.  Like the song says, put up the tree before my spirit falls again.  Hopefully it will hang on for another week.  Assuming it does, this year I am fully intending to enjoy the holiday, no matter how imperfect it may be.  I wish nothing less than the same for you this Christmas.  Haul out the holly!


  1. I did not know the lyrics, so I had to go Google them. Sounds about right to me this year too. I'm so happy that you feel hopeful! That is such an amazing feeling. I hope everything does continue to get better and better!! (PS - I can identify with the song except for the "grown a little leaner" part. That, no so much.)

  2. As the McDonald's commercial says: "Hope's good!" And so were those cookies. :o)


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