I’ve never known anyone who loved Christmas the way my late friend did. She was my husband’s cousin, and they shared their childhoods through family gatherings and holidays. He speaks fondly of those days, but she spoke of them with reverence. They were, in her mind, nothing short of perfection. She remembered, in great detail, every food, cookie, candy, gift and song. She could recall which years they had snow and which years they did not. She would even talk about the wrapping paper and decorations.
Thinking back to my own childhood, I can’t remember any major holiday catastrophe. I spoke with my mother about this, and she filled me in on the time Dad began to paint the living room the night before she was set to have all twenty-five members of our family come to our home for Thanksgiving. They both laugh about it now. We reminisced about the time we got a “fresh” turkey that turned out to be anything but. We had beef that evening instead. There were mix-ups over gifts; there were out and out bad gifts. There were ruined desserts. There was the time my grandmother set her freshly made peanut brittle out on a bench on her porch to cool, and when we went out to retrieve it we found my cat curled up on the warm pan, fast asleep, fur stuck to Gram’s handiwork.
The point is this: Holidays are not perfect. Nothing in life is. But if we focus on the good things, the happy memories, and learn to laugh at the calamities, maybe we can stop stressing and learn to have that same love of the holiday season that my friend had.