Many of my friends are thinking twice about really celebrating Christmas this year. They have experienced a year of heart-wrenching loss, of grinding despair and of confusion with the world we are living in. They are choosing to let Christmas 2016 pass them by quietly, without fanfare and without celebration, hoping that 2017 fares better for them.
2016 has knocked me about as well. I quit a job, developed crippling illness, suffered financial loss and have ended the year with skyrocketing debt, no car, and a house on the market which looks like we will have to sell at way below its value.
However, I have decided that this Christmas, we are going to celebrate.
We’re having turkey and ham and cranberry sauce and pudding with custard and cream. We’re having mince pies and roast potatoes and trifle and mulled wine. The carols will be cranked up, my house is sparkling inside and out with decorations, and I can’t wait.
We’re not celebrating the birth of Jesus. Those of you who are religious, who go to church at midnight on Christmas Eve, might shake your finger at me, but we don’t identify as Christians (or any other religion), so celebrating the birth of a religious entity would seem to be a little pretentious.
What we will celebrate is family and love. Even as our entire world collapsed around us this year, we still had each other. We still had a blinding, brilliant love that kept us both mostly sane. And we still had our hopes and plans. Neither of us have stopped dreaming of what we can accomplish, and neither of us have stopped working toward those accomplishments.
We’ll also celebrate friendship and mateship, and the kindness of strangers. When we asked for help, people came out of the woodwork to help. People we didn’t even know turned up at our house to help us ready it for sale. There were so many friends and helpers, we had to turn some away, because there was nothing left for them to do.
Finally, we will celebrate that although our circumstances aren’t ideal, we are not at rock bottom. We still have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. For one day, we will have delicious, rich, Christmas food in our bellies. (Probably the day after also because, you know, Christmas dinner? Leftovers? Yeah.)
I really hope that my friends who don’t feel like they can identify anything to celebrate this year might read this, and then find the one spark of joy they might be able to raise. One spark is all it takes. Where does your happiness lie? Look there for your spark. It might be in the smiles of your kids or your parents or your friends. It might be in your accomplishments or your hobbies or your work. It might be in the holidays you have taken, the visits you have made, the places you have seen.
Find it, and share it. Let’s make Christmas 2016 the brightest yet.