Countdown: The end is in sight

by Janie Jones

T-minus 18 days.

Just 18 little days.

What’s that Janie, you may ask.  18 days til what, 18 days of what?

I have just 18 more days of class left in this semester.  Whoo-hoo!  Not only does that make me ecstatic for the pure and simple reason that I’m so ready to be done with this semester and certain coursework, but it also means my favorite time of year will no longer settle for the backseat in my daily life.

I really love the October, November, December months.  I love fall colors and the cool crispness in the air, I love traditional Halloween scary decorations and fun.  I love Thanksgiving.  Traditionally Thanksgiving means turkey, making holiday cards, and putting out the Christmas decorations.  I love the trappings of the season: planning, compiling and wrapping presents, the baking, and the first snow of the year.  I love my icicle lights, I love the scent of pine.  I love the quiet serenity that seems to blanket the Great White North in a twinkly mantle of snow on Christmas Eve.  I love to go for a winter night walk and feel the happy glow of the holiday lights, imagine the happiness and joy of the people snug in their houses gathered around glowing Christmas trees bolstered by mountains of carefully wrapped presents, the excitement and expectation of the wee ones watching for Santa and then returning home to my modest abode to sip steaming Chai in front of my own lovingly bedecked tree with soothing strains of my favorite holiday music playing low.  And, I love my birthday, which falls on December 5th.  Before moving to the Great White North, I always hoped for the first snow fall of the year to occur on my birthday, as apparently the story goes I was born on the first snow fall of the year, and it was an on again, off again sort of treat.  Now, I often can enjoy the first snow fall of the year much earlier on, but it’s no less special for me.

I know a lot of people who hate the commercialism of the holidays.  I know a lot of people who resent having to spend money on presents that are not appreciated, who have family dramas that deter from the joy of the season, and many other “holiday hang-ups.”  I think though, the holidays are what you make them.  To me it’s a beautiful time of year that holds the promise of peace, tranquility and remembering those you love.  Traditionally, winter was a time when the weather forced people’s activities to grind to a halt, to gather in a place of warmth and share food and drink.  Now-a-days we are so busy in our day to day lives we tend to forget what it is to sit quietly, to share a meal, to listen and to be grateful for what we have and who we share it with; which makes holiday times which sort of require us to slow down for a minute all the more important and special.  No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, no matter what you call your winter holiday, and whether you gather in a huge crowd or in solo, I believe deep in my bones that we each have the power to make this time of year as magical as we want it to be.  I also am convinced that that kind of holiday magic can’t be bought no matter what you spend or where you shop.  It is simply bestowed upon even the most meager and humble celebrants if they but choose to find the spirit in the holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, presents are nice.  Holiday parties can be fun.  And a huge fat turkey and decadent trimmings are definitely in order.  But, it’s not the physical things done, bought or given that create the magic, it is the spirit, love and joy in which they are bestowed, honored, or experienced.  Holiday magic comes from a feeling, a spiritual understanding, and a unbridled joy of the heart which has nothing really to do with diamond tennis bracelets, the newest X-box console, or who has the most holiday lights, or who’s party is catered by that swanky 5 star restaurant.  As the main character from my most favorite Christmas story ever, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, discovers, “Maybe Christmas… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”  I have had Christmases that were so lean we only got a turkey because Leif’s employer gave grocery store gift cards to the employees instead of a having a staff party.  I have had Christmases with no presents.  I have had Christmases with no trees.  And, generally of late my Christmases have been just me and Leif, the spud traveling with her dad for the holidays.  And, I am so totally okay with that.  Those holidays have actually been some of the happiest because I was celebrating from the heart without the obligations, the long lists of gifts to buy, the hours of wrapping or the planning of whose house you were going to when and how to juggle all the details.  I found the magic in me, and not in “things.”

School this semester has been a hideous trial.  I’ve also been dealing with my wonky eye and it’s complimentary medical bills and drama.  So, sadly October and much of November has been a blur of irritation, misery and exhaustion.  But now, the countdown to the end of semester can begin, and I can start to enjoy my most favorite time of year.  After all, that which is truly important will out.  Next Thursday we will stop everything and have turkey, and decorate the tree and make up holiday cards.  After that there will be my birthday and the spud’s birthday (three days apart) with cake and a few presents, she is, after all, going to be 7.  After that there will be our Yule party and Santa will make a special early night time visit to our house, because Santa knows she travels with daddy on the holiday.  Then the spud will go to her daddy’s for Christmas.  And my life for a few weeks will be normal, peaceful and totally indifferent to Spanish verbs, Physics quizzes, a certain arrogant professor and irritating projects, medical bills, and disconcerting visual disturbances.  Life will be simple and blissfully happy.

Happy Friday.

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One Comment to “Countdown: The end is in sight”

  1. I love winter late night walks in the snow. The muffled sounds, strange light and cosiness of a warm coat can’t be beaten.

    This is a lovely post, Janie, despite your difficulties. I hope next year it will all be a bad dream.

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