What Christmas has Come to Mean to Me

Ornaments sparkle on the Christmas tree
Ornaments sparkle on the Christmas tree | Source

I just recently retired from a 16 year career as a Paraprofessional working with special needs students in the local public school district. It was a long 16 years. I thought I might miss the kids but ironically I don’t. I’ve found the free time I have now to pursue my writing, work in a greenhouse raising organic vegetables, and spending extra time with my granddaughter has truly given me the optimum joy. This is the retirement I have always dreamed of having and I’m taking full advantage of it during this holiday season.

Christmas is just around the corner. For years I’ve had to race against the clock to make that holiday deadline. It was nuts. I juggled the day job along with shopping for gifts and making my traditional homemade goodies. All that crazy racing about literally took the ‘fun’ out of Christmas. By the time it was over and New Year’s Day came and went I was relieved, anxious to take down the tree and forget about all the anxiety and stress the holidays incurred. But this year it’s different. This year is special.

I’ve been savoring every minute of the Christmas season this time around. The Christmas carols sound especially pleasant. I’ve even caught myself humming instead of being annoyed by the repetitive tunes. The Christmas tree appears more exotic and beautiful than in the past as I have taken my time setting it up and hanging the ornaments with great relish. The nativity set is even more beautiful than ever before as I nourish my soul with tender visions of the baby Jesus on a daily basis. I’ve done a lot of shopping online and home delivery has been wonderful. Every time a package is dropped off it feels like another Christmas morning as I dash outside to scoop it up with delight. My thoughts buzz with excitement as I anticipate the many new baked treats and candies I will prepare in the next week. I can finally be creative in the kitchen and enjoy my baking adventure without being limited on time.

Another Christmas pastime favorite of mine is walking through a local neighborhood that traditionally goes all out with the lights and creates a magical holiday menagerie. The walk-thru is extensive and may take several hours. In the past my husband and I have seldom been able to truly enjoy this marvelous display of color due to so many pressing responsibilities on my part for the holidays. There was always a Christmas potluck at work to prepare for, or a gift exchange to plan in advance, or additional shopping required to buy gifts for the students that I worked with. It seemed Christmas was all about the job and everyone else but me. But that has now changed. I’ve already made arrangements to leisurely walk through my favorite lit neighborhood with husband in tow. This year I intend to buy the hot cocoa at the event and lollygag my way down the road and revel in the splendor of the beautiful colorful displays without a care as I snuggle up to my husband and grin.

I’m more ready for Christmas than I’ve ever been before. The joy resonates inside me as I wrap gifts and anticipate a fabulous gathering with family and friends in the near future. I am so at peace within, content and happy to be able to experience the real joy and meaning of Christmas.

So last night my husband came to me and eagerly asked, “Would you like to go to the mall next weekend and deal with the Christmas shopping rush? It’d be fun!” I looked at him and smiled. “Sure, honey, why not?”

Some bad habits are hard to break, but at least I get to go home afterwards and calm down with a cup of hot cinnamon tea and warm sugar cookies knowing I don’t have to get up early and go to work. That, to me, is what Christmas is all about.

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