I Want Some Joy for Christmas

Holiday Cheer

SG Buckley

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It’s three weeks ‘til Christmas and already I’m stressed. There’s so much to do. Shopping, decorating, a tree to buy, gifts to pack and ship to the US, thank you notes/gifts/money for teachers, charities, trash collectors, our postman. The school raffle and fair. Christmas memories to plan, maybe a Panto (madcap British musical) or ice skating or a carol service.

“When are we decorating the house?” my daughter asks. “Do we even have a wreath?”

“Of course we do!” I say. (Add “find wreath” to To Do list.)

Normally, we don’t decorate because we’re never home for Christmas. We fly to the US to be with family. This year I decided to be “selfish”. Our daughter just turned 15. All she wants is to be in her pyjamas in her own home on Christmas Day — that and three dozen things she forwarded me on a GoWish list.

“Are we sending out Christmas cards?” my husband asks. “Leave it with me,” I say. (We haven’t sent Christmas cards in years.) I add “Take happy family photo” to the To Do list.

I hate Christmas. There I’ve said it. It’s a month of chores for a morning of “joy”. It’s about ticking items off a To Do list. Nevermind the real point of the day. By the 25th, I’m exhausted.

My husband asked NOT to cook this year. On the rare occasions we’ve stayed in London, he goes nuts in the kitchen. I shop and clean, but he spends most of Christmas Day cooking a goose and stuffing, Brussels sprouts (with pancetta), roast potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce. He creates special menus, which he rolls up and ties with a ribbon. Close friends join us. My husband has been so busy at work, he asked me to book a pub. Tick!

With so much suffering in the world, I know it’s wrong to whine about shopping and decorating. I should pipe down and be grateful. I just wish the holiday were simpler.

The best Christmas I remember was just me and my husband in Rome. It was long before our daughter was born. (If you’re reading this Sweetheart, one day you’ll understand). We went to museums and shopped and ate pasta. At midnight on Christmas Eve, we stumbled across a church and enjoyed a magical mass celebrated by an Irish cardinal.

I can’t remember what I gave my husband that year, but I remember his gift to me. He wrote a story called “The Black Pearl”. The tale was about a starry gem’s mysterious journey across Arabia, a version of which he told at a short story writing class in Boston the day we met. For my gift, he expanded the story, and had it beautifully printed and bound.

This year, I have only one Christmas wish. I want to enjoy it.

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SG Buckley

Writer, editor, parent. Former staffer at Quartz, WSJ and Inc. magazine.