Many of us just survived the unofficial hectic start of the holiday season, affectionately known as Black Friday. We all hustle and bustle to get the perfect gifts, find decorations to outdo our neighbors or find the right outfit for an upcoming holiday party.
Each year the frenzy of the holiday season hits all of us at one point or another.
It has certainly hit me. When it does, I take a deep breath and recall a December morning I experienced a couple of years ago. By reflecting on it I experience what is really most important during the holiday season and every season.
A fresh white blanket of snow draped my favorite pine tree in our front yard.
A smattering of snowflakes lingered in the air as daylight began.
In the backyard our beloved Golden Retriever romped in the cool crisp snow and stopped briefly to let a couple of the flakes tickle her nose.
It was morning time, just three weeks until Christmas Day
I couldn’t sleep so I got up early with the dog and took in the serene beauty of a new day and the first snowfall of the holiday season.
I stretched to work the kinks out of my fifty year old body then I turned on the lights to our two Christmas trees and admired not only the beauty of the decorations but also the memories they represented. These were memories that my wife, daughter and I had created. On one tree we had ornaments from our various travels and favorite places. The other tree had a variety of hand made ornaments from our daughter. The scent of fresh pine still lingered on each tree.
Below our neatly decorated fireplace mantle sat a red poinsettia plant.
I laughed to myself as I thought that it was already a Christmas miracle that this plant had survived since Thanksgiving. My wife and I have a reputation for killing plants and goldfish in record time. I remembered my daughter bringing home her first goldfish and how big her smile was and how her bright blue eyes twinkled with joy that day.
I started a pot of coffee and took in the aroma of fresh hazelnut. I peaked out at the dog to see how she was doing. As I glanced outside I saw a bright red cardinal land on a pinecone birdfeeder. A streak of sunshine grazed the cardinal and made its red feathers seem even more brilliant. It was a simple snapshot of nature’s beauty and I felt lucky to see it.
I sat waiting for the dog and began thinking of the upcoming weeks and sighed. No gifts had been wrapped, half of them still needed to be purchased. The cookies had not been baked or iced. Christmas cards still needed to be filled out and mailed. Final decorations and planning had to be finished. Work projects would need to be completed before the end of the year. It was all a bit overwhelming.
Thankfully the dog barked at the back door and helped me erase those thoughts of the upcoming chaos. Her fluffy loving face peaked in at me. Flakes of snow covered her golden hair. I let her in and she sat obediently so I could dry off her paws and furry coat.
I petted her lovingly and she wagged her tail as if to say thanks. She was ready for her favorite moment of the day. After she was released she rumbled back to the bedroom to greet my wife and daughter. The dog jumped onto the bed and licked them both as if to say “good morning and I love you”. From my spot in the bedroom doorway I watched the proceedings and smiled. It may have been cold outside but I had a warm feeling on the inside.
The three things I loved most in life were all in one spot. My wife, daughter and dog all seemed content and ready to greet a new day. I thanked god for my blessings.
In three weeks it would be a morning of chaos. Wrapping paper would be strewn everywhere. We would be unpacking and examining gifts, running around trying to decide what to wear to the afternoon gatherings, cooking last minute dishes and who knows what else. It would be yet another hectic Christmas Day
As for me, my Christmas Wish had come early. Money could not buy me gifts like the beauty of a white blanket of snow, a bright red cardinal or an unexpected quiet moment where I could cherish the memories that our Christmas tree represented. The gifts of unconditional love from my dog and the security of knowing my wife and daughter had slept warmly in their beds and woke up happily on a crisp and beautiful December morning we far better than anything you could find at a store.
Maybe I’m becoming a sentimental fool. I’ve had the fool part down for awhile so I’ve always been halfway there. All kidding aside, now I truly realize what I want for Christmas every year. I don’t need the songs or the gifts or the cookies, well maybe a couple of cookies. What I really need is a simple, quiet and beautiful December morning. The time when everything is just right and those that are closest to me are there to share my moment. That can always be my Christmas gift. A gift that costs nothing but that means everything in the world to me.