Our Christmas at Chez Gainey will be perfect this year…I’ll just go ahead and say it- it will be magical. I know this without a doubt. Oh sure, there are stresses in our lives- Dan needs a knee replacement and is in pain much of the time, I’m a musician with worsening hearing issues, we have to repair the foundation of our beloved home, our precious Cooper just had a biopsy done….in other words, real life is happening all around us. But here’s a secret- that’s all part of the perfect Christmas. Holidays of any kind aren’t perfect in the way you think- instead, it is a mindset with which you can approach it all…a certain spirit that envelopes you and enables you to see the good, to look for the magic that is there- and it really is out there. I’m so confident in that fact that I can guarantee it, if you only believe.
Work with me here- as the daughter of Heavy D, I was indoctrinated into the Christmas Spirit from the womb. I remember magical Christmases all through my childhood, memories so special that if I had children I would want to recreate the very same things for them. That being said, I had no father there, there was often no money for heat or basic necessities, I have no doubt that most of my presents were second (or third) hand, and – being the twenty-fifth of the month- food was sparse. It didn’t matter. We had the Christmas Spirit, and we saw and felt what the holiday meant to us so clearly (it means something different to every person out there, by the way- that’s what is so great about it- tailor-made spirit!). We kept up long-standing traditions and made new ones, we banged out Christmas carols at 5am on our horribly out-of-tune piano, singing at the tops of our lungs, we laughed and told stories, we opened our presents one at a time to exclaim over them, we visited with family and friends….and all of the other stuff melted away like an ice cube on Miami Beach.
This year will be Dan’s and my first Christmas alone; our parents are gone, siblings are far-flung…and we’ve decided that we truly want to be on our own instead of spending the day with friends as we might normally have done. We are figuring out what our rendition of Christmas is with all of the changes in our families and our lives, and we’re ready to decide which traditions to keep, and which new ones we want to foster. We know part of the story- we decorated the house to the hilt, all while blasting Christmas music and singing along (changing the words terribly, as we always do). We picked a giant Christmas tree (we call it “The Big Ass Tree”, because one side is very ‘Baby Got Back’…I love it), and we covered it in our special ornaments, most that represent different periods in our lives. Just opening the boxes that contain them fill me with the Christmas Spirit- the magic of the season. Our house is lit up like Disney World, and we turn the lights on as soon as we wake up, and again as soon as we get home from work- we’re going to wring every single moment of enjoyment out of them until the time comes for us to pack them up and store them away for next year. We light the fireplaces and sit in front of them with the dogs in great conversation, or in companionable silence. We’ve scheduled small gatherings with some dear friends, and a couple of romantic meals out. I bake like crazy to share goodies with friends and loved ones, including my Wayward Seniors at Princeton Towers. I love every moment of it.
Being in the arts, part of our holiday is performing (or managing performances). I’ve played my last Christmas job and Dan is finishing his tonight. We are ready for the quiet, to retreat into our own little world of holiday magic. When we do venture out, we’ll see some people smiling and being kind to others…and some who haven’t quite figured out what the holiday means to them, except for anger. Those people will always be out there…the holidays are a very emotionally charged time, and most people are just doing the best they can to deal with the things that wash over them at this time of year. What I wish they would remember, though, is that they have a choice- we all have a choice. Most of us have had some pretty bad stuff happen in our lives at some point, and the holidays can pull the scab off of some pretty intense emotions. We can choose to let the bad stuff define us, swimming in the sadness of past hurts (which only gives them more power) or we can choose to let the magic of the holiday fill us up with joy and relish in the present moment. We can choose not to be a victim of our circumstances, of our past- or our present. We all have that power, even though it may take some of us a while to find it- and that’s okay. I’m not making light of it or saying that it’s easy- just a possibility that we all can tap into when we are ready.
Christmas morning will come and we will wake at sunrise as we always do, spending time to love on each of the dogs before stretching and climbing out of our cozy, warm bed. I’ll be the first to yell out, “Christmas gift!” in my family’s tradition, and Dan will laugh and say it throughout the day. We will sing Mom’s favorite Christmas song (Christmastime, Merry time! All the world’s a hummin’. All you see are full of gleeeee (hold for a very long time for dramatic effect)…Cuz Santa Claus is comin’, WHEEEEEE (as high as you can sing it). We’ll have a light breakfast and start preparing our little feast for two. We’ll listen to Christmas tunes on Dan’s iPod, have some eggnog with fresh nutmeg grated on top (leaded- a one day a year treat), and we’ll probably stay in our jammies all day, talking, watching a movie or two, working together to create a special meal. We’ll get calls from family and friends, and we’ll make some calls. We’ll shed a few tears when certain memories of the past wash over us, always grateful that we had people in our lives who meant so much to us.
The biggest reason our Christmas will be perfect? Love. Yep- that is the secret ingredient for the perfect Christmas. When love is present, it has the power to transform any situation. Dan and I call it “Love Goggles” (though we say “Love Gargles” to be silly because….well, because we’re pretty much always silly.) Rose colored glasses, Mary Poppins, a Pollyanna point of view….whatever you want to call it. Love has magical powers- of that I have no doubt. And I have it on good authority that the Christmas Spirit is made up of…you guessed it- love. You won’t hear any Scroogish Grinching grumbling from me, no matter what. I’m going to unabashedly embrace every wonderful, silly, frustrating, sappy, jolly moment of the holiday, letting them wash over me with a flood of memories, of traditions old and new, along with a ton of good ol’ love. There can never be too much love.
Wishing you a holiday season that is whatever you need it to be…but I’m rooting for magical.