This has been a weird Christmas. My husband and I are in the midst of a major house renovation on our old fixer-upper, so we have been displaced from home for about 6 weeks now. I am not a major holiday decorater, but I do love our Christmas tree, which we had to forgo this year. Because I am kitchen-less, I could not do any baking, which is difficult since I like making and sharing yummy things, especially this time of year. No chai, no meringue cookies, no rum cakes, no pumpkin chocolate chip bread. We also limited the gift-giving this year, and for the first time, didn't do gifts for each other. I never understood how couples could just "not do gifts"...I mean, really, nothing, not even one little thing? It always seemed so sad and unromantic. So, when my husband suggested it, I thought, "Really, are we already THERE after only 3 years of marriage? Have we already become the no gift-giving couple?" I admit I was a little disappointed—I love picking goodies out for my husband, and he is such a good gift-giver to me—but I also knew it was the right thing for us this year. With all of the demands of this renovation, we needed to simplify, not just financially but also logistically.
But please don't feel sorry for me, like I used to for couples that didn't do gifts. Not being home for the holidays and a necessity to simplify Christmas turned out to be the biggest gift for both of us. The WHOLE story is that when we were in Savannah for Thanksgiving, and made the pact to not buy gifts, instead we purchased a print that we both loved and could look forward to hanging up in our new old house. Instead we were not up all night wrapping a pile of gifts. Instead we got a hotel room on Christmas Eve so we could have a little quiet bit of time together before the family flurry of the holidays. Instead we were able to focus on what our house needs to become a better home for us. Instead I was better able to appreciate the little things that are not presents wrapped under the tree, like moonlight on the snow, a brisk walk to the bakery, and a woolly pair of boots. Instead of focusing on what I didn't have this year, I was forced to be thankful for what I did have.
Next year, we will finally be home for the holidays, and while I have already announced to my husband that we are going to "do it up" next year, what I really mean, gifts or no gifts, is that we are going to doubly celebrate all the little things of the season that make home so special, like the waft of pumpkin chocolate chip bread baking in the oven and chai simmering on the stove, the soft glow and sparkle of ornaments on a tree, a dog-to-come curled up in a corner, a warm fire, a roomful of laughter (or quiet), and a chilly night to make me thankful for a cozy home. Those are going to be my gifts, and it's worth waiting for.
Happy new year to all. May you find peace in the season and comfort in the little things.
p.s. I found a loophole in the no-gift policy. Santa can still deliver gifts. Like a mercury-glass polar bear ornament you just have to have because it reminds you of "Bear", the stuffed animal your very special grandma gave to you one Christmas long ago. That's allowed, of course (*wink*).