Canceling Christmas

I freely admit I’m a Scrooge. I simply do not like Christmas. Over the years, as a widow, everything fell to me to make a memorable holiday for my girls, and I don’t have Rockwellian memories of my own childhood Christmases. My siblings and I had to get dressed and attend church, which in my family’s faith included fasting, then come home to gifts that never seemed to measure up to those of our friends. As an adult and the de facto Santa in the house, I find there are too many people to please, expectations to live up to, and so much money! Then add the pressure—find the perfect gifts, get the outside decor up, the tree, the house…bah humbug. 

I’m slowly and consciously paring it all down. I stopped stringing holiday lights outside and opted for seasonal garden flags and holiday inflatables. I gave my young adult daughters much of the décor and the ornaments I’ve amassed over the years to get their collections started. The tabletop tree I introduced last year was a big flop, so I got a slightly bigger one in a January sale. As I put away all the decorations for last year’s holiday by myself, with many flights of stairs and enormous containers, I hoped to pare down even further. 

Both daughters were home this year for Thanksgiving (now that’s a holiday I can get behind!) when I learned they would both celebrate Christmas with significant others. After my self-pity became tiresome, I decided not to decorate for Christmas. No tree. No manger, snowman, throw pillows, dishtowels, shower curtain. The liberating feeling took hold, and I decided I would also not bake cookies or set the table complete with holiday dishes and glassware. I would not bring up a single tote from the basement. How’s that for Grinchy? 

But then I was looking for my dog’s winter coat and came across her holiday accessories—parka, sweater, collars and a kibble bowl that says Fa-la-la. I had forgotten about a photo of the two of us in matching hats, and when I saw it, I remembered that it would make a fun holiday card. Shopping for gift wrap, I spied a few ornaments I liked. The next thing I knew, Alexa was playing Christmas music while I was trimming my new tree. My unattached sister said she had no plans for Christmas dinner, so I told her to come over and ended up having people over after all. It was very nice. Different without my kids, but still festive.

I’m now facing the daunting task of de-Christmasing. The big plastic tubs await the dishes, mugs, pillows, placemats, stockings and angels. The porcelain Santa tea set has to be wrapped carefully, and the faux poinsettia put away. I swear I’m not doing this again next year.