Skip to main content

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)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Part 1: College Submission

Alice stepped onto the dock in the backyard where her daughter sat, feet dangling into the creek.
“Maddie, help me with dinner, please.”
“But I need supplies for my presentation board.”
Alice inhaled tightly. “It’s almost curfew, Madison. Why didn’t you remind me earlier?”
“It’s just stuff from Target. I can go myself.”
“No. Write down what you need. I’ll go right now.”
“Seriously, mom, it’s okay. I’m 18. I can sign.”
Alice was firm. “Inside now, please, and make a shopping list.”
Madison rolled her eyes, but obeyed. Arguing was futile.
Alice grabbed Madison’s list in one hand, purse in the other. No use getting frustrated. College applications were treacherous; the private schools made it nearly impossible. If Madison’s project didn’t astonish the enrollment board at Elmwood, her acceptance could be revoked and she’d end up at State.
State was a good school, but it didn’t have the budget for security. Outside the ivies (which no longer accepted applications from non-legacy candidates), Elmwood…

Part 2: Campus Tour

Alice looked impatiently at her watch. Five more minutes until her daughter Madison and the other four candidates would present their high school theses to the Elmwood University enrollment board. 
“Shouldn’t we head to the lecture hall?” Alice asked the tour guide. She didn’t want to miss Maddie’s presentation, a discussion about the Constitution. "The Bill of Negative Rights", she called it.
“Oh, that’s a closed event, ma’am. We’ll finish up the tour in time for you all to retrieve your students.” The tour guide didn’t even pause before continuing. “Next we are going to walk through the residential quad. Naturally, we will not be going inside any of the residence or dining halls for security reasons.”
“Are the dorms co-ed?” asked a parent.
“No, they’re all gender-segregated. Each entrance is equipped with a fingerprint reader and laser counter to ensure only authorized residents have access.”
Well, that’s overkill, thought Alice. What fun is college if you can’t sneak boys into…

Part 3: Life After Curfew

“Do I need to bring TP?” Madison whispered into her phone to her best friend, Grace.
“Nope! We’re stealing it from the school bathrooms,” replied Grace. “Hurry up and get down here!”
Madison slid open her bedroom window and climbed down the leafy trellis to the bushes below.
“Welcome to life after curfew!” Grace said in a loud whisper.
“Shh!” Madison reacted, scanning the darkness. “Don’t get us in trouble before we’ve even left the yard!”
“Relax, Maddie, there is NOBODY out here. Not even Curfew Officers. It’s been hours since twilight. Come on!”
Grace led Madison through a labyrinth of yards, avoiding streetlights. It took a few minutes for Madison’s eyes to adjust and notice that Grace was toting not one, but two rifles.
“Is the extra one for me?” Madison asked sarcastically.
“Maddie, I know you don’t have a rifle, and I know you think you’re making some big statement by not getting one because you’re the one who told everyone they should get one, and now you think that the entire country …