How did this sneak up on me? I’ve been painting wintry scenes since October. I’ve spent hours prepping and packaging orders for the Kingston Holiday Market. I happily hosted Merry Little Main Street along with my business-owning friends in Bath. And still, somehow, Christmas has arrived before I was quite ready for it this year.
I’ve bought all the gifts I’m buying this year—I’m proud to say 90% of my dollars went to small and local businesses. I’ve done all of my wrapping and even got myself a new pair of Christmas pyjamas.
And still, I’m feeling unprepared for the holidays this year. I don’t think I’m alone here. And I think it’s the cheer I’m missing. And the togetherness.
Christmas has been a time of mixed emotions for me since Tyler died. His birthday was Christmas Day. We got engaged on Christmas Day in 2015. I always miss him that day. But I also always feel very close to him. And feel him around me in the movies, the music, the twinkly lights, and especially the Santa hats.
So, it’s a different malaise I’m feeling about the holidays this year. Last year at this time, my family and I travelled to Calgary to spend Christmas with my dad’s side of the family—something we hadn’t done since 1995. It was a holiday very unlike our usual celebrations but it still REALLY felt like Christmas. Because we were surrounded by our people.
It’s hard this year, not being able to gather. Not being able to host our open house on the island. Not being able to go visit my friends and bring them early Christmas presents. Not being able to get together for New Year’s (although I always skip that one—more on THAT next week).
I think we’re all struggling to feel festive this year. I keep thinking about the Grinch, saying, ‘It came without packages, boxes, or bags!” It feels like this year, that’s all that’s coming.
We can’t stand around the tree, hand in hand, singing. But we can still find ways to feel connected.
I’m not religious. For me, the holidays aren’t about anything bigger to me than togetherness and love and light in the darkest days of the year. And while we can’t be physically together, we can embrace the rest of it.
We can call each other. Write to each other. Send little, meaningful gifts. We can embrace our love for each other. We can shine our own little lights out into the world to beat back the darkness and keep it at bay.
We can check in with people who are isolated and alone. We can smile with our eyes above our masks when we pass each other out in the world. We can spread holiday cheer.
I’ve found this to be true of happiness, and I think it applies to holiday cheer: the more we create it for others, the more we feel it for ourselves.
That’s going to be my strategy this year. And we’ve still got one more week to build the cheer!