It started well, as it does every year. I started my Christmas baking in November and by the end of the month my deep freeze was filled with homemade dog biscuits in the shape of a bone (as if dogs actually care), chocolate crinkle cookies and homemade peanut butter cups. They are ideal as little gifts for classroom, music and dance teachers and I was proud of myself for being ahead of the game.
It took me awhile to accept the end of summer and then to accept the end of fall and the start of winter. But once I did, I was ready for it. Wanting to make sure my daughter understands that Christmas is about more than the loot that Santa brings, I signed us up as volunteers with the Salvation Army Christmas kettles. We had a great time and it was a nice way to give back and one I will do again next year.
We also made sure we spent time at one of our favourite family Christmas events: Bethlehem Star. It’s the free event that Emmanuel Baptist Church gives to the community every year. To wander through a re-creation of a first-century marketplace in Bethlehem and then experience life in the town square with people at work, cooking, teaching, sewing and other activities is to be reminded of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
But somewhere between then and now, something seems to go horribly wrong in my Christmas preparation. Every year, I vow that next year will be different, that the last two weeks before Christmas will be relaxed and enjoyable, that when I’m not working or involved in my daughter’s flute recital and dance show, I will be playing board games, doing a little baking, decorating the tree or just stretched out on the couch with my book and a cup of tea.
Yet, here I am yet again caught up in the madness. First let me state that I am one of those people who actually enjoys shopping. I also love to both give and receive gifts.
But there must be a way to tie in my joy at giving and receiving while also omitting the insanity that hit me this week as I wandered like a zombie trying to find that perfect gift for my difficult-to-buy-for husband. That was followed by spending what seemed like an entire day’s salary on shipping parcels to three separate provinces.
To me, Christmas is truly about spending time with loved ones, be they family or friends: having a lovely meal together; taking the dog for a walk in the snow; singing Christmas carols; watching little ones take part in the Christmas Eve pageant at All Saints; eating ridiculous amounts of chocolate; enjoying the cool, crisp alpine air and perfectly groomed slopes at Silver Star.
I am not sure how to put an end to the insanity of the other stuff. I have no intention of not buying gifts for my family, and I still love watching my daughter get caught up in writing her letter to Santa and leaving out the cookies, milk and carrots for the reindeer. She knows the gifts don’t really come from the North Pole, but she still loves the magic.
And I love the warmth and love that seems to appear at this time of year. Everyone is a little kinder, the community is generous to those in need. Every Dec. 25, my dad reads an excerpt from A Christmas Carol and the words of Charles Dickens are worth remembering: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
Merry Christmas to all.