“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!” ~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has always been a favorite of mine. As a child, I would begin scouring the TV Guide in the month of November for the one and only showing of my holiday favorites. Back then, you only got one shot at seeing them and then they were gone for another year.
I’ve always been like the Who’s – loving all things Christmas. I am the head cheerleader for Christmas in my family. Shopping for ornaments all year long, dressing my house in its holiday best and putting up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. But I also had a soft spot for the Grinch with his crabbiness and sour attitude. Even as a young child, I seemed to understand that Christmas could be a lonely, difficult time for some people. Imagine my dismay when I realized that for the first time in my life, I had much more in common with the Grinch than the Who’s.
This year I have struggled to find my Christmas spirit. When October came and I hadn’t bought the first ornament, I began to realize something was amiss. My husband will be working offshore for the holidays this year. Not having him home has always put a little damper on Christmas for me, but we just changed the date to celebrate while he was home and all was well. In order to do that this year, we had to move everything up by 10 days. Ongoing health problems for both daughters and me didn’t help matters. Discussions with my family were met with protests and general disbelief. When Thanksgiving came and went with no tree and no decorations, my family came to the realization that the orchestrator of all things Christmas at Chez Redmond was MIA.
A visit to my rheumatologist (a wonderful guy) resulted in a very strong recommendation to let go of the pressure to create the perfect Christmas. He asked “How can you pare it down to the things you love with the strongest meaning for you and your family and let the rest go for this year? You need to begin the process now because this will be truly unsustainable as you get older. There will come a time when you need to pass the torch.” He had a point. Each year we seem to try to do more, be more and make it perfect for all those we love. Over time, it builds to something that becomes unmanageable and burdensome. Something I know my family doesn’t want for me.
I was a little surprised at who stepped into the void – my husband. He pushed me to either abandon my big tree or come up with an easy, acceptable alternative. He shopped for the entire family and did a great job I might add. He helped with my version of a Christmas tree this year, wrapped gifts and cut and wrapped caramel without complaint. Best of all, he took everyone out to a local restaurant for a great family dinner to celebrate the holiday after we exchanged gifts.
Over the 35 years of our marriage, there have been many times when my husband has surprised me with little gestures that show how much he loves me and others when we found our roles in the marriage reversed. This was one of those times. I became the Grinch and he was the Who showing me the truest meaning of Christmas. Thanks, Babe!