I stand at my kitchen island, an array of things spread in front of me. I work my way methodically. Greeting card first, a thoughtful note inside, a gift card taped to one side, a pashmina shawl folded to fit into a small organza bag, a tiny candy sampler. I knot and tie each back, ticking off the name in a list I have by the side.
I have a few boxes left to gift wrap. I put them aside and determine I will get to it tomorrow. I bag the gifts I will be delivering today and put the rest away. I walk around the home filled with something curiously similar to joy. The Christmas tree looks stark without the lights that make it magic. The gifts underneath have been rearranged. I spy what looks like a letter to Santa tucked underneath it.
Each day as I turn the lights on outside, I stand by the window taking in the lights in my neighborhood. There is something festive about standing on your porch and looking at blinking fairy lights.
I roam the aisles of the local big box store. Panettone, Danish cookies, shortbread, gourmet candy. I load my cart and linger near the clothes. The reds and greens dominate as do ruffles and sequins. I am tempted to add frilly dresses to my already pricey cart. I demur and move on.
Over the past few weeks, I have been ordering online, sticking to a budget, finding things I think each person in the family will like. I have been secreting the packages away, disposing of off packing materials before the kids reach home. I hug the secrets to myself, pleased when I realize I actually nailed the kids’ gifts this year.
The wreath on my door, the tree in my living room, the nativity set on the side table, scents of cinnamon and pine from candles, wrapping paper, tinsel, cookies all remind me of Deepavali growing up.
The run-up to Deepavali with its new clothes, family outings, smells of deep frying and smoke filled mornings. Each Deepavali morning a little before noon the realization would set in that this was all it was. Deepavali is over.
I feel it creeping in, the sense that this is all coming to a head and will be over when we wake Christmas morning. It hits me that these are the things my children will remember. The shopping before, the seasonal eats, the lights, the gifts, the elf, the wrapping paper, the story of Jesus being born.
I want to slow time down, make the days leading up to Monday count. I want for us to linger, to write thank you notes to all those who help make our lives easy the rest of the year. I want for us to pause, to realize that along with Christmas comes the turn of the year. A chance to look back and plan ahead. I want for us to start the new year with hope, with the fullness of spirit that a new year brings. I want us to remember to hold on to the magic of these days, to feel the excitement each year.
Most of all, I want us to savor, to soak it all in and know that this is how we create traditions, make memories and find pockets of joy.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and A Very Happy New Year!