, , , , , ,

In the past, I have been a self-described Grinch when it comes to Christmas. In fact, the Grinch in me says “No posts about Christmas before Thanksgiving, dummy! Celebrate one holiday at a time!” But there are only four weeks before the big day and I am trying my best to get in the spirit.

Christmas seems so overly commercialized these days.  Nothing like the Christmases of my memory. And all the hype on TV just seems so much like a Pottery Barn catalog that there is no way my somewhat dysfunctional family could ever live up to its cheerful, glittery perfection. Though we sit around a food covered table every Christmas, it is not beautifully appointed with amaryllis blossoms, seasonal evergreen boughs, and brightly burning candles. Nor are we as gorgeous as the people featured in those advertisements.

Instead, we eat off dishes my grandmother uses every day (as has for the last 30+ years). None of the food is transferred from their cook pots to serving bowls or platters. We do not own a gravy boat or placemats. Or silver. Or crystal. And, you know what, there is nothing wrong with that!

It took me a few years but I have figured out how I can have a happy Christmas, knowing that it will never be “perfect.” It starts by going back to the basics. What does Christmas mean to YOU?

Christmas means…

Fun– Decorating sugar cookies and gingerbread houses. Playing in the snow. Making paper snowflakes. Decorating the tree and the house. Going see a live nativity scene. Walking around the neighborhood to check out the neighborhood lights, taking a hike, playing pool or ping pong. Cut your own tree. Make a new wreath for your front door.

Food– Homemade candies and cookies. Comfort food like your grandmother’s mashed potatoes, your aunt’s cranberry sauce, your favorite ham recipe, the macaroni and cheese that your family has always made. Perhaps a seasonal cocktail.

Family– Get together. Play games. Talk (maybe not about politics or religion, though). Take pictures of each other and the fun.  Honor the memories of those who have already passed away. Embrace your faith’s Christmas traditions like the advent wreath or Midnight Mass.

Regardless of how you celebrate, if you concentrate on the simple things in life, you will have a happy holiday season. Now start making your list of things to do this season that will celebrate what Christmas means to you!

Photos credits: Here, here, here, here, and here