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Hold tight to the wonder when you can

Make time this Christmas to appreciate the magic of the season.

December 22, 2021

3 Min Read
Red barn in the snow at Christmas time
SIMPLE WORKS: This Christmas, spend time appreciating the joys of the season. Kristen Prahl/Getty Images

There is never enough time before Christmas to get everything done.

That’s why, this year, I’m paring back my list to only those things that bring me happiness and wonder. And I’m letting go of traditions that no longer fit my life, and obligations that don’t bring joy.

I know. Rebellious, isn’t it?

It took me 43 years, but I finally realized that Christmas isn’t about perfect gifts that arrive on time for Christmas morning. Look, if your holiday is going to be ruined because you received my package on Dec. 31, or even sometime in January, then I can’t help you. Because no matter how hard I try and how much I plan ahead, it’ll get there when it gets there.

Likewise, I’ll not be attempting a gingerbread house this year, or making cookies. Frankly, I don’t have the kitchen counter space, and no one likes my cooking anyway. But there are many, many talented bakers out there who could use the sugar cookie orders and are happy for my business. Besides, I eat half the dough before it hits the oven anyway.

I’ll not be caroling. Not because I don’t love to sing, but because it always felt a little weird just showing up at a door and singing loudly until the door opened and the people smiled at you. And then, when is the acceptable time to leave? After one song? After the third verse of “Silent Night”? Instead, I’ll be playing Christmas music on my Spotify and letting the pros handle that part of the holiday.

What remains

So what am I keeping, you may ask?

I put up my tree and outside lights, because they bring my heart such joy. There’s something welcoming about a porch lined in twinkle lights this time of year. And even though hauling up the tree and the ornaments from my basement is a chore, I enjoy reminiscing about the people and places from my past those ornaments remind me of. The rest of winter is so dark and bleary — they just make it a little less so.

I’m keeping my tradition of watching every Christmas classic movie on TCM, with reruns of modern classics like “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” thrown in for good measure. It’s not the holidays until Chevy Chase is terrorized by a rampant squirrel. Taking an hour or so out of the day to laugh or to cry along with a movie where I know every line by heart may seem useless, but it brings back memories of friends and family no longer with us.

This Christmas, I’ll be spending quality time with friends and family, and I won’t be worried about perfection. I’ll be in the moment and making memories, and off my phone. Instagram can wait. This holiday doesn’t need a filter to be perfect.

Most importantly, this Christmas Eve, when I sit in that pew, I’m going to thank God for the blessings and the mercy he’s given me and my family this year. And I’m going to say a prayer that he will comfort those who had a worse year than we did.

This all started more than 2,000 years ago in a pretty simple stable. They didn’t have twinkling lights, or animatronic reindeer. There were no commercials touting sales with mind-achingly catchy jingles.

And yet, it was pretty filled with wonder.

This year, join me in taking a step back to appreciate the wonder we’ve lost. Trust me, you won’t miss the things you give up.


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