My sister was a “Christmas person”. She was born on November 18 and her Christmas tree went up that day. She took it down, with many regrets, on January 18, her husband’s birthday.
“It’s not as long as you’d think”, she’d say.
This year, in the midst of the pandemic, Christmas will be special, and I mean this seriously, without any irony. Remembering the two “Christmas people” I knew very well, my mother and my sister, it did not matter what they might have faced at Christmas – poverty, illness, someone being away, my father’s recent death when it happened in 1967 – it was important to them that the day itself was magical for those they loved and both of them always did everything they could to make it so.
Christmas is not so important for me. I have worked on call many of my adult Christmases and so I can be happy just for having the day off. However, I loved my mother and my sister very much, and I channel them at Christmas. Christmas at its best is a time for unusual generosity and kindness. At Christmas, this is what I try to do: I try to make Christmas special with small actions or gifts that others will love, and especially the Christmas people. My experience is that the Christmas people go out of their way to ensure that the holiday is kept, no matter what is going on in the world and a pandemic is not going to stop them.
The Christmas people I know will not be disobeying any guidelines or breaking any lockdowns. They will tell you that, if you cannot make Christmas happiness out of what you have, you are lacking imagination.
A lockdown will not keep you from making fruitcake, Christmas jam or decorating a tree. If you are isolating in your home and didn’t pick up Christmas cards, you can send letters. You can write your letters while you’re munching on shortbread and listening to Christmas carols. This is clearly the year to watch all those Christmas movies you love that you usually don’t have time for because there is so much shopping to do.
This year, be like Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol. In the very last paragraph of A Christmas Carol, we are told that Scrooge “knew how to keep Christmas well.”
Let us do the same and channel the Christmas people in our lives since, for this year, we may not be able to embrace them. This is the year we have to be creative about Christmas magic.
(This is one kind of Christmas cookies I make every year. They’re always the same, but everyone likes them.)