I'm finding it difficult to find the spirit this season. I'm not sure why. The house looks great, all the presents have been wrapped for a week and my cookies are even baked. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that it looks like mid-March outside. Gray and rainy and sort of warm - not Christmas weather. And there's no hope for the white stuff in our forecast. No White Christmas on its way.
But there are three kids in this house that have spirit for us all, who can't wait to rip open the presents that sit under the tree. I've never done that before - put presents under the tree before the big day - I think I did it this year with hopes that some spirit would exude. And it did, for the kids.
I loved the last episode of Modern Family on ABC, (if you don't watch it, you must) where this quirky, funny and abnormally-normal-in-every-way family rented a snow machine for their fake Christmas celebration in California. Maybe that's what I could do?
I suppose that wouldn't do the trick either. The Christmas spirit must come from within. I know it's deep down in there, buried under the pressures and stresses that accompany this time of year. Somewhere under the worries of whether or not I've bought the right gifts for the right loved ones, maybe just beyond the 200 samples of cookies I've tasted. It could be next to the mental menus and to-do lists, concerns over paying off the gifts, excitement for a houseful of loved ones for a week or the lurking weight of upcoming tax prep and personal and business-related New Year's resolutions.
Now that I've written that, I realize that the Christmas spirit isn't anywhere near those inevitable components of my full life, but instead resides where it always has, within my heart, within my actions. It's in the fleeting peaceful moments spent with my kids, a stolen dinner out with Mike alone (the first in at least a year), drinking coffee in the wee hours of the morning in front of the tree in a silent, sleeping house, the backdrop of Christmas carols playing during the day, the immense, unyielding gratitude for the year passed and the endless hope I hold for the year ahead.
It's in the deep traditions, however silly they may seem, that we give our kids each year. From too many cookies baked, to Uncle Griff's tree, to eating waffles for dinner on the day after Christmas; these traditions are their stronghold on family and what it means to be a part of one, in every way. Orchestrating and ensuring these traditions, this holiday, this family, is what the Christmas spirit is all about.
Who needs snow? I had the spirit all along.