My mother was amazing at a lot of things, but one skill I’m particularly glad I’ve inherited is her ability to create her own rituals. On a holiday as traditional as Christmas, there’s a lot to be said for doing the things everyone always does. I put up a tree, I hang lights, I buy gifts. One of my favorite childhood memories is decorating cookies with all the cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
Mom did crazy things on holidays. Well, crazy like a fox. I distinctly remember a Thanksgiving dinner at a Chinese restaurant in my youth. And a Christmas Day spent at the beach. One year we had a tree entirely decorated with teddy bears. She always sent ME a card on Mother’s Day. We spent an entire day doing made up rituals on the day that was going to be my wedding day and then wasn’t. I don’t think the day could have possibly been any more special if I had actually gotten married.
She instilled in me the knowledge, deep inside myself, that one day is not any more “special” than any other, unless you make it so. And what’s special to me might not be special to you. I’m so deeply blessed to have been raised to do what I feel I need to do to make a day what I need it to be.
Some people might be sad to be alone on Christmas. Some Christmases I’ve been sad to be alone. Some Christmases I’ve been super sad to be forced to spend time with people I didn’t much want to be around. Guess which one is worse?
This year I decided to do a little bit of alone, and a little bit of being with a good friend who might be even less traditional than my mom was. I had a feeling he’d be without plans on this “important” day as well, and I had a bigger feeling that he’d be there for me if I needed him. I was right. (I’m usually right. Save yourself some trouble and accept it now.)
My one main goal this holiday season was to visit the Magic Tree. This is a Columbia tradition that’s been around for twenty years. This one guy does it all every year because it makes him happy. His website describes it as a “senseless act of beauty,” which is a concept I can 100% support. My friend agreed to help me achieve this goal, and to document its occurrence for me, despite it involving walking and people and pink and mud and all sorts of things that he didn’t need in his life. Because he’s a good friend.
It was everything I dreamed it would be.
I mean LOOK at it! What could be more wonderful to do on a special (of your own making) day than to go stand under something this ridiculous and lovely? Not much in my book. Maybe sleeping as late as you want, then waking up to give your puppies and kitties presents Santa left in their stockings. Taking a walk, watching soap operas, organizing nail polish, and eating chocolate.
God bless us, every one!