A Simple Christmas
Some of your best Christmas memories might be the most simplistic.
Tyler James, age 2, enjoying a Christmas in Wisconsin.
Christmastime is a nonstop rush. Our calendars in December are filled with parties, concerts and church activities, along with all the shopping, wrapping and shipping, decorating, baking and the usual chores, too. The hectic nature of the holiday season makes me appreciate the low-key moments even more. There’s a famous quote from Bob Hope that says, “When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things — not the great occasions — give off the greatest glow of happiness.” I’ve become even more in tune with those moments as I’ve become a parent.
We spent the first Christmas after Tyler was born with my family in Wisconsin. It was one of those times where I realized how much I enjoy a simple Christmas. You can’t get more low-key than my sister’s cabin, tucked away in the forest. The scene looks like a real-life snow globe. No signs of the hustle and bustle. The nearest McDonald’s is over 30 minutes away, and there is no cell service until you drive out to a main road several miles away. It’s a nightmare to most teenagers and probably more adults than would like to admit. The little bit of recluse in me, however, loved it.
My oldest, Tyler, was 2 years old at the time. It was his first chance to experience a real Christmas snowfall. Not one of those melting, here-today, gone-tomorrow snows that we are used to in the Carolinas. This was one of those thick, hearty snows that those poor people up north are still watching melt in April. Being a first-timer, Tyler didn’t mind the temperatures being in the teens or the fact that he fell down time and time again, giving him a good taste — literally — of snow.
That year, we went to Christmas Eve mass at a small church in the town of just over 800 people. The service was small and simple, as was the church itself. Although we had never been there before, it was warm, welcoming and felt just right. The small congregation sang “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and it sounded as good as if there had been a choir. The message and the meaning weren’t lost in a big production. When I’m not preoccupied with other things, I can better connect with the reality of what Christmas is really about.
When we got back to the cabin, there were no video games to be had, but there were plenty of board games. We laughed and played for hours, ate popcorn and drank hot cocoa. My sister Stacy read Tyler “The Story of Santa Claus.” Everyone was fully engaged, focused on being present in the moment. No stress. No anxiety.
I know I am not the first person to write about a simple Christmas. If you do a Google search, I’m sure there are probably far better ways to make Christmas simpler than escaping to a cabin in the middle of the woods. The point I’m trying to make is that some of our best Christmas memories come from the smaller things we do during the holidays. Wherever you go, whatever you do, don’t forget to set some time aside to slow down, get rid of needless things that preoccupy you and enjoy the people you love most, your family. Sometimes being disconnected is all we need to reconnect.