That goodwill bit, now described as an accounting term or an organization of assistance to those in the depths of despair, seems antiquated and quaint - Charles Dickens'ish. Yet that is the very embodiment of the Christmas spirit to me and every year since recollection has had me start this season of indulgence and merriment with a desire to share that goodwill with everyone.
I know that I am wrapped in the Currier and Ives vision of Christmas. I admit that I have expectations of how it is supposed to look and sound and smell. Last year, I created the closest recreation of that ever. The fresh pine tree, chopped down by my very own husband after tromping through a forest (okay, it was a Christmas tree plantation, but let me keep some of my illusions, alright?!), decorated carefully and lit up in the window of a house large enough to entertain my entire family. We had a fully laden larder, a fridge full of yummy food, an abundance of beverages and even gently falling snow. Perfect, right? Turned out that the snow slowed and almost completely derailed the family's arrival, with treacherous driving conditions. The abundance of (alcoholic) beverages was challenging to some of the members of the group and everyone woke up the next morning having to dash off before the weather closed in again. I was left at 10 am on Boxing Day with the consummate Christmas done in less than 24 hours, a messy, empty house and a ton of left overs with no one to share them with (except my grateful husband who loves turkey sandwiches).
In the week leading up to that event, I was so excited to be able to provide this amazing Christmas to share with my loved ones and truthfully, I treasured every single minute of it (except some of the beverage-induced silliness) and would do it again, but only if we could all enjoy it longer - people should plan on spending at least 5 or 6 days with me - before and after. Then. I would be happy.
Hmmm, perhaps there are some unrealistic expectations lurking here. What is genuinely there for me is that I almost don't want to begin a season of disappointment, so I am putting off even pulling out the decorations because if last year wasn't precisely ideal, given all the right conditions, how will I ever be able to have the Christmas that I dream of?
Now, my daughter has had her son and has asked to begin the passing down of the traditions, ornaments and celebration. This passing of the torch is appropriate and makes perfect sense that the next generation hosts and holds the family gathering. I am left, like I was in my bedroom as a 15 year old, wondering where the magic went. Time to read "Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus" "...Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world." Thank you, Francis P Church, Editor of the New York Sun.
I will find enchantment and charm this season. I will bake and cook and share lovely times with friends and loved ones. I will find ways to give and be generous and open. I will hang my stocking and eagerly watch for the sparkle and glow in the faces of those around me. I will hold the Spirit of Christmas in my heart!