I'll let you in on a little known secret. All I have up for the holidays is a pre-lit tree with disco ball ornaments hanging from it. There I said it.
I have to also tell you, I think that it is absolutely perfect as it is now.
Let me explain...
Last year, we put our tree up really late in the game. How late you might be wondering? How about within a week of Christmas. I know, it didn't feel good to me. And so I told my husband last year that I wanted to put it up much earlier next year like in October. A year flew by, October was especially a blur, and here we are looking at the end of 2022. Whoa! When the professional organizer I hired to help us with our garage came over in the first week of November, we dug the tree out for the season. Well, honestly, I needed to make room for the organizer to organize so I brought the tree inside and out of her way.
Serendipitously, one of my sweet girlfriends, aka April my work wife, came over with a belated birthday present that same day. She was so giddy as she watched me open her perfectly wrapped gift. Lo and behold it was a package of pure perfection, five good sized disco ball ornaments, all now sitting in my fair tree. I stared at them happily for a few days and thought...are five really enough? #nope
So off to amazon I went, ordering a gargantuan set of multi size disco balls. I didn't tell my crew specifically that I was not into decorating the house for Christmas. As in not. at. all. But they did know, do know, that this holiday season has been a struggle for me.
If you know me in real life, or maybe you've figured it out by now if you've been a follower of mine for long enough, you'll find it no surprise when I tell you that I wear my heart on my sleeve, and this Christmas, my heart's not in it this year. If you didn't know, both my parents had life changing medical events in May. My mom died three weeks later in June.
Sometimes it seems as though the grief from losing my mom gets worse by the day instead of easier. I wake up most days with her at the forefront of my mind, and as my mental to do list starts, I think Oh, I need to call my mom. A few seconds pass and it hits me, she's not here anymore. Grief has held an unexpected force in our life for seven years now and I thought I knew my way through it after losing our niece and one of our best friends last year. I didn't think I would feel this way, at this point, but here I am.
I think my guys all saw how happy the tree sans ornaments except for glitter balls made me. I told them they were welcome to get all the decorations down and work their own Christmas magic. Turns out everybody in the house was fine with me not bringing out any more decor...at least inside, outside its like Clark Griswold lives here. ;) Except for my "Don't Just Stand There, Bust a Move" doormat on the porch that literally had the new mail lady bust out laughing last week when she saw it. Its the little things in life y'all.
I'm sharing all this to say, if you're in a place of hurt or loss this season, please know that whatever effort you want to put forth for the holidays is absolutely right. If that means a flocked tree, blow up Santa in the front yard, and garlands everywhere, great. If that means a pre-lit tree and some ornaments, great. If that means nothing at all, great. Expectations should be thrown out when a major life change is happening...and we as a society, I think anyway, tend to never make room for that reality to happen, guilt-free. Give yourself some grace.
What has helped me through these feelings of sadness and grief is the true spirit of giving and love that we all associate with this season. How you can brighten somebody's day in a way that's unexpected and will really mean something?
Lotion for my acupuncturist, homemade pumpkin pie for my kids bus driver, and church toy drives have come up in the last few weeks as small ways that my family and I can make someone's day, and all I really want is to be able to capture the sparkle in someone's eye when they feel seen. We deliver poinsettias to shut-ins every December and although we haven't been able to meet in person since Covid, I know that they appreciate and look forward to it. In the end, every year when we give of ourselves, our time, our money, our whatever we have to give, it's really ourselves that get more out of our service unto others.
I encourage you to think about friends, coworkers, service providers, or family that may be going through a loss in their lives, or their first holiday after a divorce, or a sickness that is overtaking their daily routines. Check in, do a load of laundry, bring a much loved meal over, sit and chat...do anything that would mean something to that person. It will help both of you, I promise.
We're all doing our best, I think anyway, with what we have and where we are in each of our lives. Leave room for life to flow around you, however it may come this season. Here's a lovely reminder in case you need it. I'll be over here in gratitude for the lovely life I have and the people I share it with, giving myself grace, with my pre-lit, disco ball themed tree. Even in the midst of the deepest grief, it's a wonderful life and a glorious time of year.