I have a friend on Facebook who is sort of known for being a cold-weather grump and holiday Grinch. The second it gets cold out, the first snowfall, the moment someone lights up an inflatable Santa, he brings it to everyone’s attention… and makes it known how “not okay” it is.
I grew up in the snow belt of northern Ohio and thrive in cold weather. I love snow and others have learned to love it too. I have countless happy memories of childhood moments where my gloves are wet from snow and my fingers are numb. I remember many Christmas decorations in our home out in November, shopping for our Christmas tree on Black Friday every year, and letting lights and décor linger long into January. Being a kid was sometimes difficult. Even though our family gatherings weren’t always supportive and cheerful, I always remember the joy that seemed to creep in through unexpected ways. When I remember those joyful moments, they usually involve snow, chilly weather, fires in the fireplace, dark evenings, and twinkling Christmas lights.
Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice
On a different yet similar note, I also love pumpkin anything. Not just in autumn, but anytime. All the time. It’s a delicious flavor that offers spice, nutmeg, sweetness and earthiness. I like it in a latte. I like it in a pie. I like it in a muffin. I like it in basically any form. I bring up the pumpkin thing because there are also social media haters in my life who feel the need to rip apart pumpkin spice anything. My question is:
Does my pumpkin spice latte, my Christmas lights, my joy and happiness for holidays, really affect you in such a negative way that you need to talk about it?
Many people say, “Well it’s because you’re ignoring other seasons or forgetting Thanksgiving.” Actually, I’m not. I’m here today with a metaphor to show you how.
Thanksgiving is My Chocolate Chips
Chocolate chips are delish, am I right? I’m known to sneak a handful when I’ve got a sweet tooth. My daughter thinks they’re actually pieces of magic. They are wonderful on their own when you need a sweet treat. But, the moment you mix those chocolate chips into a bowl with flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla and a dash of salt, then bake for a while… your mouth is watering right now just imagining a warm, gooey, fantastically delicious chocolate chip cookie. Unless you have an allergy, or you’re a monster, you love a good, fresh cookie. But loving that cookie does not mean that you suddenly devalue those plain chocolate chips. In fact, mixing the chocolate chips together with those other ingredients heightens the experience of the chocolate chips. Those ingredients actually make the chocolate chips better.
That’s what the holidays are like for me. Thanksgiving is my chocolate chips. I love Thanksgiving. The family time, the time off work, the food, the celebration, the relaxation… all the ways that our culture celebrates that longstanding holiday are superb. If I have Christmas lights up before we carve our turkey, or if Christmas music is playing through the house which smells like Yankee Candle Balsam Fir, I’m not ignoring that holiday of thanks. In fact, I’m finding more ways to enjoy its goodness. By adding in those extra ingredients, Christmas spice and everything nice, I’m able to enjoy Thanksgiving in more intentional and deeper ways. I’m not ignoring the holiday. I’m not ignoring those chocolate chips in that cookie. I’m heightening my holiday experience.
A Deeper Level of Joy
There’s a picture floating around the internet right now of a woman standing in front of her Christmas tree in their living room in total awe. She loves Christmas but her husband always said, “It’s too early to put up the tree.” During a challenging season of life, he put up their tree early while she was out of the house. When she returned home, she saw the tree and broke down in happy tears. He said, “I’d leave it up all year, if I had known it would bring her this much joy!” He began to realize that the holiday season is truly about joy. His wife easily knows what brings her joy. Once he embraced it, their whole home felt joy on a deeper level and for a longer amount of time.
Haters gonna hate. But don’t let those haters ruin your holiday spirit. If you ARE one of those haters, remember that the holidays aren’t always happy and merry for everyone. Family tension, financial stressors and especially past trauma and loss can leave one feeling a deeper depression than normal over the holiday season. So if drinking that PSL in the summer brings you joy, drink it. If singing Christmas carols before you carve your turkey brings you joy, sing your heart out. If leaving your twinkling lights up twelve months out of the year reminds you to look at life in a magical way through the eyes of the child, hang up an extra strand of lights. If being a little extra during the holiday season feels like self-care, I give you permission to be a little extra.
Enjoy those chocolate chips however you’d like this season. However you celebrate, I hope you find incredible joy. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Happy Chanukah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Celebratory Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Happy St. Lucia Day, a Wonderful Boxing Day, a Happy Omisoka, a Great Yule, and a Very, Merry Christmas.