Last night, at about 7:15, there was a knock at my door. I live in an apartment complex, in a locked building. The only person who ever knocks on my door is the mailman. But not at that time of night. Still, it was a cheerful knock, and the man on the other side of the peep was an old man and I DO live in Eden Prairie, MN...so I opened the door and it was one of my neighbors. He lives a few doors down from me and wanted to thank me for my Christmas tree.
My Christmas tree is real, and cost $35 at Home Deopt. The ornaments on it are all cheapies from Target (seriously cheap, like a whole bucket for $3), and Liam picked out the blue glittery star on top when he was three years old. Maybe two. There are three strands of lights on it, and it stands maybe seven feet tall. Tim and Liam decorated it when I was at school, so there are LOTS of ornaments on the bottom because that's where Liam can reach. It's silly. And fun. And since I live in the first apartment on the first floor of the first building in my complex, everyone who drives by the building or turns into the parking lot sees my tree. The lights stay on all the time (some of them sporatically blink). This is my ENTIRE Christmas decorating effort. That and three stockings. It all fits inside one small plastic bin when Christmas is over. My apartment is small and there is very little storage, so this is what we can manage. For now. Maybe forever, who knows? But my $35 Christmas tree and its $10 worth of ornaments made a neighbor so happy that he knocked on a stranger's door to say thank you. Just for having a tree that he can see when he comes home at night.
You know what my son asked Santa for? Blue matchbox cars. I bought him an xbox, I think he'll love it, but seriously. A matchbox car costs about a dollar. That's what the kid wants, I'm going to fill his stocking with them. He doesn't expect hundreds of presents under that tree. He expects cookie crumbs on the plate he leaves out for santa, and he expects to spend the day running around like a lunatic at Kelly's house, and he expects to decorate cookies and build gingerbread houses. He expects my mom to read us T'was the Night Before Christmas over Skype. He expects me to wake him up because he'd sleep all dang day and I want to see his happy little face on Christmas morning!
I think a lot of what stresses people out at Christmas is their own expectations. Maybe try some different ones. Instead of complaining about how much Christmas music is on the radio, try to remember when you were a kid and how FUNNY that stupid Chipmunk song was, and the 12 days of Christmas with the Disney characters singing (five onion rings!!). Instead of complaining about long shopping lines, be grateful that you can afford to buy presents AND for the fact that you have people in your life to buy presents for. A lot of people will spend this holiday alone. Call someone you haven't spoken to in awhile, especially if it's someone you're mad at, and tell them you're sorry and you've missed them even if it was their fault to begin with. Figure out what's making you stressed and miserable for the holidays and choose a new attitude. My friend Kelly calls this "reframing". Reframe Christmas so it's something you enjoy, not just something you grit your teeth and get through. If you want, come to my house. Look at my Christmas tree. I'll feed you some butterscotch fudge and sneak Southern Comfort into your Dr. Pepper until you're happy.