Editorial: Missing spirit
Hello. I’m looking for something. Red, green, maybe with a little sparkle. Smells like candy canes. Sounds like jingle bells.
It answers to the name “Christmas spirit” or “holiday spirit.” I hear it’s supposed to be around here somewhere, but I sure can’t find the evasive little bugger. Have you seen it?
It usually jumps into my lap right after the Thanksgiving dishes are put away, or maybe after one round of leftovers. It guides tree trimming decisions and warms my fingers as I string outdoor lights in the cold. But this year, it hasn’t shown.
I’m not a Grinch, no Ebenezer Scrooge. I like decking the halls, finding the perfect gift, spending time with family. But then, most of my family lives elsewhere, and my kids have entered that age where there really is no perfect gift. I used to have lists of toys to choose from, that would generate genuine excitement when revealed with a tear of the wrapping. Now all they need are clothes that they don’t want and electronics that I don’t want to give them. It’s hard to get inspired to make those purchases.
It’s not as though I’m not looking. I chased it to the Palace Theatre’s production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and when it disappeared again, I followed it to Curtain Call’s production of Elf. But it bowed out with the final curtain.
My neighbors are trying to help. I see their lights, their wreaths, their inflatable Santas. I know they are not hoarding the spirit. I know there is enough for everyone. I know it’s around here somewhere. It definitely rode in to the Darien Sport Shop lot with Santa recently, but for the first year in memory, I couldn’t be there. Maybe that’s the problem.
Maybe because it’s barely December or because my kitchen is still stocked with Halloween candy, or because I’m still crossing things off my back-to-school shopping list. Maybe I’m just in denial at the speed with which this year has passed. Or thrown off by the rain. Or demotivated by the very short days. Or still struggling with the overwhelm I resolved to give up a few years back.
Desperate, I continued my search online, asking the all-knowing Google, “Where is the Christmas Spirit?” I found two (yes, surprisingly just two) Hallmark movies, a Johnny Cash album, and even a Christmas Spirit essential oil. But that didn’t suffice.
Of course, because it is 2018, my search also delivered a Wiki-how-to, this one entitled “How to be Full of Christmas Spirit.” Along with the usual “Watch holiday movies, listen to holiday music, read holiday books, and give give give,” it included such gems such as:
“Make people laugh with puns, e.g. stick a notice on a computer such as “Please will yule log off your computers when finished.” Hmm. I feel like that might get me kicked out of the workplace Secret Santa.
Another unusual Wiki-how suggestion: “Make sure everything is clean and uncluttered. By making everything clean, you will spend less time concentrating on the cleanliness of your environment, and have more time to spend concentrating on Christmas.”
I don’t know about you, but “uncluttered” is not how I would describe my house during the holidays, as I search for a seat among various Santas, reindeer and musical pillows; adjust the line of snowmen on the shelves; move the stockings before building a fire; properly display the onslaught of Christmas cards; and maneuver around the giant tree spreading its boughs across my living room. I’m not complaining, just saying — the Christmas spirit is definitely not a neat freak.
Maybe it’s a case of “fake it ‘til you make it”, or “If I decorate, it will come.” Maybe if I pull out the ornaments, put up the tree, blast that little drummer boy, and toss around the tinsel, the Holiday Spirit will come to play. Maybe this year, I need to roll out the red and green welcome mat and beckon the Spirit to join our Elf up on that shelf.
Hopefully, the Spirit will be here soon. Please if you see it, send it my way. In the meantime, I’ll be putting the reindeer antlers on my car just in case it’s looking for me when I’m on the road.
Rebecca Martorella, LMFT, welcomes ideas and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.