By Kerry Slavens
In this season, when the North Pole is at its farthest point from the sun and the days are short, a kind of magic always swirls around us.
As many of you know, I’m all about simplifying my life. I’ve embraced small-space urban living, downsized my wardrobe, and trimmed a few pounds (and a few unsupportive relationships). But when it comes to Christmas, I can’t lie — I’m all in. I love the turkey dinner, the parties, the bonhomie, the sparkle, the shopping — and yes, the gift giving.
Some of my friends have decided Christmas just isn’t a thing for them anymore, and that’s fine — for them. But while they are retreating from the season, I’ll be revelling in it. There’s plenty of time to simplify again in January, after all.
I’ve tried to analyze why I love the holiday season so much. I think, in part, it’s because I grew up in a working-class family that had enough, but never indulged in a lot of extras — except at Christmas. This was the one time of year we really let ourselves splurge, and not just on food and shopping, but also when it came to showing our feelings for each other.
People in my clan who seldom said “I love you” to each other often found it in themselves to do so on Christmas Day. Maybe they were just overcome by the, ahem, libations, but still, they did it. And those displays of emotion would stay with us, so that by the end of January when Uncle Bill or whoever became his usual grumpy self again, we could still look fondly back to Christmas and say, “Remember how angelic he looked when he sang Silver Bells?”
The other thing I love about Christmas is how a large swath of the globe becomes quieter and a little kinder for just one day. CBC talks about ceasefires. Bickering family members call truces. There are fewer cars on the roads and fewer reasons to be somewhere other than with the people we love.
In this season, when the North Pole is at its farthest point from the sun and the days are short, a kind of magic always swirls around us. We light fireplaces and candles and decorate with lights in what I always see as a sign of hope. And while the magic never lasts forever, I always feel optimistic that it is possible, even for just one day, for humans to show a little more kindness, love and patience with each other. I will never get enough of that.
Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Yule, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas or another tradition this season, I wish you happy holidays from all of us at YAM!