I love Christmas.  I do.  I always have.  It has always been the bright spot in the bleakness of winter for me.

I love the decorations.  Driving through neighborhoods and voyeuristically peeking into semi-parted curtains to see a tree alight, in a house atwinkle, with reindeer and Santas and snowmen and who knows what grazing on the front lawn – I am like a little kid again, mouth agape with wonder and delight.  Seriously!

I like Christmas shopping – I do it all year long.   And you have to keep in mind that I am not a shopper, at least not when it comes to myself.  I have a talent for giving good presents and I accumulate them in the course of the year.  Sometimes I even forget what I’ve bought for people; had this year been a bit calmer, I had intended to wrap and tag each gift as I bought it, so I would be as surprised as the recipient when it came time for opening.  But I especially like Christmas shopping at this time of year, because everyone seems so happy and festive and friendly. 

I like Christmas carols, tree decorating, hanging stockings – the whole nine yards.  So how is it that I have wound up in the midst of a clan of people who don’t like Christmas?

Kelsea is agreeable to looking at the lights and of course, she likes the presents.  But she doesn’t have the bug – she could take or leave the whole thing, really.  Pat has never given a reindeer’s ass about the holiday – he feels it’s forced.  My former brother/sister-in-law did Christmas up right when their daughters were little.  Now they’re off somewhere in a motor home and won’t be coming back, and my nieces dislike Christmas to the point that they’d taken to celebrating it at New Year’s, if at all.  My now-former-guy didn’t like Christmas either; he had some good reasons, but regardless he wanted nothing to do with it.  I still bought him presents, because that’s just me.

So I look at this sorry bunch of gloomy pusses who have been closest to me and I ask myself, “How can I maintain my Christmas cheer and spirit, even in the midst of a (thankfully soon to be ending) hellacious year without imbibing in exceptionally massive quantities of alcohol?”  And I answer myself, “I dunno, what are you asking ME for?” or, on bad days, “You can’t, so just break out to intoxicants and get it over with.”  But I rarely listen to myself, since I tend to babble a lot.

I haven’t forgotten the true meaning of Christmas as a time of peace and celebration of the birth of a very wise teacher.  But it is easy to get swept up in the commercialism of the holiday, and the charitable part of me would say that’s what my scrooges don’t like.  But I know that’s not true.  At any rate, I try to make sure that as part of my own personal celebration, I keep the thoughts of faith and wonderment in mind and heart.

So here we are, a week before Christmas.  My house looks like a hurricane blew through and then came back for seconds.  Never the tidiest housekeeper, in the throes of urgh this week, I’ve really let things go.  I don’t have a tree.  Nothing is wrapped.  No decorations have emerged.  The one box I have to mail isn’t mailed.  I am tempted to just let it all go, and not have a tree.  But I regretted that the one year I didn’t.  And if this is my last Christmas in the Cottage, I think I’d like to do it right.  Which means that today is the day.  The elf, completely unaided by any of the scrooges, sets forth and boldly tidies, rearranges, moves furniture, throws things away, unburies the tree stand, buys a little tree and makes the magic happen.  And you know what?  The scrooges who are around will love it.  Never in a million years would they admit it, but it will stir a peace and pleasure in their little scroogey hearts, just like the three visiting spirits did with Old Eb in the Dickens novel.

The Elf triumphs yet again.

Gratitude list for the day (so far):  how the warm sunlight streaming through my bedroom window reminds me of the Caribbean; my grumpy daughter; my dreamcatcher hung upon the bed; when thoughts of the future turn hopeful; Hemingway.