Happy Winter Solstice!
It's the shortest day of the year today, also known as the first day of winter, also the beginning of Yuletide, which was taken over by the Christians and turned into Christmas. :-)
I'm sitting here, staring out the deck doors, watching the rain coming down. Definitely not a sight to inspire the Christmas spirit. Also in my line of sight are the Christmas tree, all the Christmas presents under it, and the Santa penguins beside it. To be honest? They look a little out of place.
Thanks to global warming, winter has been getting a later and later start and I'm pretty sure that white Christmases are a thing of the past for us here on the edge of Lake Ontario. In fact, I've suggested starting a fund so that when the grandbaby is around 5 years old we can all go up north for Christmas so she can see what it's like to have snow at Christmas.
When I was a child I loved Christmas - decorating the tree, stealing cookies as my mother baked them, watching the pile of presents grow under the tree ... and of course there would be a heavy blanket of snow out there transforming the drab, grey landscape into something magical.
Of course I didn't have to do any of the actual work towards Christmas other than making a few crafts, which I loved doing even as a kid. I didn't have to bake the cookies, or shovel the snow, or foot the bill for the mountain of presents. My only job was to enjoy myself.
I still enjoy Christmas. Mostly. I may not always enjoy the work leading up to it - like the marathon baking binge I went on over the weekend, or the shopping and present wrapping - but once Christmas Eve is here and I can sit back and relax, I can plug in the Christmas lights, and listen to some Christmas Carols while ignoring the grass outside that needs cutting. There's just something special about Christmas.
This year is going to be extra special because we have our grandbaby now. We tried not to go too overboard with gifts for her first Christmas (she has her first birthday in January) and I can't wait until Christmas morning when she gets to open them.
There was a brief time, when our daughter was born, that the joy of Christmas (along with every other holiday) dimmed a little because we have a lot of family and everybody wanted a piece of us, especially at Christmas. 'Tis the season to be jolly, but nothing will suck all the fun out of it like family. We made a lot of compromises that nobody was really happy with and got through it somehow.
So when the daughter started seeming a little frazzled with all the expectations of the season, I could really sympathize with her. And I told her that this time of year it's okay to be selfish. You're never going to please everyone, so don't even try. Do what makes you happy.
One of our traditions has always been to have a big Christmasy dinner on Christmas Eve. I'd cook game hens and each of us would have our own so there was no fighting over dressing or leftovers. But my daughter has a new family now and wants to start her own traditions. And this does not include coming to our house on Christmas Eve, although we are invited to their house on Christmas Day.
And you know what? That's a good thing. Most of my family's traditions - like singing Christmas Carols and reading stories - have fallen by the wayside because of other expectations of the season. So I'm glad to see my daughter starting traditions of her own and I hope, over the years, that she never loses them.