“The Holiday Season” is almost upon us*. Well, my idea of ‘The Holiday Season” is almost upon me – I don’t know many people who celebrate quite as I do, quite so enthusiastically. It’s a thing with me. For me, the winter holidays begin with Thanksgiving and continue through to the new year, ending on New Year’s Day, with my personal “One Hour” celebration (a personal tradition that has endured decades through tough times and good times), spent reflecting on the year before, progress made, obstacles, new and old goals, and committing my intentions for the year to come. It’s a whole lot of holiday celebrating, connecting, sharing, and enjoying – and it’s my idea of how such a thing can be experienced.

Even the creatures of forest, meadow, and marsh are getting ready for winter.

Even the creatures of forest, meadow, and marsh are getting ready for winter.

I rarely experience ‘holiday blues’ and I am eager for the holidays this year, utterly unreservedly eager. It’s not about money, I’m stretched pretty thin these days, and I don’t expect to afford a lavish holiday. That’s irrelevant – it really is about the baking of cookies, and the sharing, and the letters, cards, and calls to far away friends and dear ones. It is about having cocoa or cider with friends, more than about presents – although I do love to see the colorful wrapping paper under the tree; I suspect it is the colorful paper more than the contents of the packages that delights me so. It is the meals and memories enjoyed and shared, not the dollar value of the money spent. Yes, I say “Merry Christmas” – and I also say “Happy Holidays”, and most importantly – “welcome to my home” and “I’m so glad to see you”. I am as likely to celebrate Chanukah with Jewish friends or loved ones, or Diwali when it falls ‘within the holiday season’ as to celebrate a holy observance in any other faith; it is the celebration that makes the occasion both special and holy, although my personal experience of Christmas began as the usual mostly secular sort. I would cram the season with observances of all the holidays I can value, honor, and welcome into my own experience – all of them that I know of, I make the attempt. These darker winter months, the metaphorical end of things, are a good time to welcome light and laughter into my home and my heart – and I do it every year, because life reminds me, every year, that there is an end to all things – by bringing winter to my experience.

This is my way of celebrating… so many things… all jumbled together, day over day, week after week. I take time to contemplate life, love, the nature of success, and how fortunate I am. It’s definitely a strong foundation to begin with gratitude and a holiday of giving thanks – and yes, that’s how I celebrate it, I am not hesitant to acknowledge the troubling origin of the holiday, and for me part of that Thanksgiving Holiday is a certain ‘spirit of hospitality’ and accord that sources with the tradition of indigenous Americans welcoming foreigners from across the ocean, helping them settle and survive – and sharing a harvest meal before winter sets in, in earnest. Many years ago, a stranger stranded with a flat tire (that was a thing back then, and not uncommon) stopped at my door to use the phone on Thanksgiving. I invited him in to use the phone. When I over heard him telling his family he would not be home in time for the holiday meal, I made room at my own table, and when he finished his call, invited him to join us. My partner-at-the-time helped the man change his tire while I finished getting dinner to the table. It was a joyous occasion. It seemed the right and proper thing to do, for a stranded traveler on a holiday. Why would I not? (If a list of reasons pops into your head, examine them with care – how many are about fear?)

This year, I’ve been content to look forward to a solitary Thanksgiving holiday. I have been surprised to find that I haven’t been at all blue about it; the menu will suit me perfectly, being entirely only things I enjoy myself. No compromises for tradition or taste. It turns out my traveling partner may be joining me for the holiday meal – which takes me from content and eager, to excited in the time it takes to understand the words. I’ve been smiling ever since. The remainder of the weekend, aside from the bit interrupted by work commitments for a couple of hours on Saturday, will be spent putting up my holiday tree, decorating the apartment, baking fruitcake, and picking out a wreath for the front door.

There’s this grin on my face just now, as I sip my coffee and realize that the winter holidays are something I’ve ‘gotten right’ for many years; I made them my own as soon as I turned 18, keeping what I valued and changing things that didn’t suit me, and have continued to build and enjoy my own traditions and deeper meaning to each feast, each ritual, each calendar date celebrated. At one time, it was the one time of year I took care of me, luxury self-care to the limit of the skills and knowledge I had at the time… once a year. This year, I am doing it with my eyes open, and that makes it all sparkle even more. 🙂

What will you be celebrating with your traditions this year? Something old? Something new? Something for others? Something for you? With enough twinkly lights the darkness can’t win. What a very good time of year to be enough. 🙂

*Almost upon us. I spared you the pictures of Christmas’s past – it’s a bit premature for all that. 😉