What to Do When the Spirit of Christmas Ghosts You

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time getting into the spirit of Christmas this year.

Oh, who am I kidding? It’s not just this year, though for some reason, it feels even worse than usual. Normally by this time of year, I’m happily working my way through holiday romances and mysteries on the e-reader, as well as indulging in my love of cheesy Christmas movies on Hallmark and Netflix. I’ve picked a night to do my annual re-watch of the Muppet Christmas Carol, and I’ve decided which of my other beloved favorites to add to the list. Will it be Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer or How the Grinch Stole Christmas? It’s a Wonderful Life or Christmas in Connecticut? I rotate these favorite classics to keep them fresh but also to make room for new movies, like A Cinderella Story: A Christmas Wish or Last Holiday with Queen Latifah.

I normally hide presents all over the house (sometimes to the point of forgetting to recover and wrap them in time for Christmas), though we’ve begun to scale back on that too. Most years I become possessed by a seasonally driven urge to bake. Completely ignoring my lack of skill in the kitchen (oh boy, do I have a post to share with you about THAT at some future date), I try my hand at dozens of different kinds of cookies, filling the house with the scent of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Co-workers and neighbors are the recipients of anything edible that my family can’t finish, though I eat far too many of them myself.

We haven’t done the elaborate holiday dinner for some time now. The family is smaller, its members scattered. Most of us have so little time off from work that travel isn’t feasible, even if the pandemic hadn’t made it impossible or unwise. We’ve never been big on outdoor decorations, either, and when you have pets, Christmas trees with ornaments can be problematic.

So we’ve been scaling back on Christmas a little each year for a while now.

Last year, while the pandemic still raged and vaccination wasn’t on the horizon yet, there was a desperation to my attempts to get into the holiday mood. This year, there is just apathy. I haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm to watch more than one or two of the new holidays movies out there, and haven’t watched any of my old favorites. I have dozens of holiday books on the reader, and keep scrolling past to read something else. The weather isn’t helping, either. It’s been a balmy 70 degrees here recently with nary a snowflake in sight.

But in a conversation with one of my friends this morning, she said that though she and her husband feel the same, they put up a few decorations, and were glad they did. She planned to watch a cheesy movie and drink some hot cocoa, and suggested I should do likewise.

You know what? I’m going to take her advice.

Scaling back doesn’t mean going all out Grinch. Maybe finding the Christmas spirit is a little like writing when the Muse has left you. 

Sometimes you just need to sit down and do it. Don’t wait for the feeling to come. Go out and grab it.

Or put another way, if you open your heart to the spirit of Christmas, it will come.

Tonight we took a chance on a new holiday movie, Single All the Way. Lately the newer holiday movies have been a little hit-or-miss with me, but this movie was one of the best, most satisfying holiday movies I’ve seen in some time. It perfectly nailed the goofy, strange dynamics of a loving family. The writing and acting was top-notch. It took the fake boyfriend trope and turned it on its head. Best of all, there were no bad guys, unless you count demanding bosses who expect you to work over the holidays. Highly recommend.

8 thoughts on “What to Do When the Spirit of Christmas Ghosts You

    • I suspected I wasn’t alone, but it does seem something people don’t talk about much. We’re kind of expected to be cheerful and in the holiday spirit. I hope as the day draws near you’ll find a measure of comfort and joy this year. <3

      And I laughed like a hyena over the baking mishaps, so that's something to look forward to! ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Yes, it’s been in the 70’s here, then goes to the 30’s with tornadoes, then back to the 70’s. Like your friend suggested, I just started reading (and re-reading) holiday books and watching Hallmark movies around Thanksgiving. In my media-life I am in the holiday spirit, real life not so much. My friends and I still aren’t getting together for our holiday party and gift exchange this year, because of several things mostly related to Covid and unvaccinated friends. Grocery shopping with half unmasked, 35% unvaccinated people is enough–I’m not going into a mall, too. And I’m tired of shopping on my computer, so I’m just not gonna do it. *stamps foot* Look at the money I’m saving!

    Fortunately, my vaccinated friends and I are getting together to play board games and card games. I kind of hate leaving to go places in the dark, but I usually have a good time when I’m there. And interestingly, our weather person told us that yesterday was actually the earliest sunset of the season. Although the days overall will continue to get shorter until the solstice, the sun will start setting later from now on. I was like, “Huh. I wonder why.” (I’m betting something to do with the Earth’s axis, and maybe I will think to look it up–later.) But for some reason, this small thing makes me happy, so I’m going with it. Games with friends and brighter evenings ahead. Yay!

    • At the height of the pandemic, we resurrected board games around here, and I’d forgotten how much fun we used to have playing them! We’ve recently gotten a new game I hope to try out soon; it’s called Wingspan. Have you heard of it? It’s a bird collection/strategy building game (which means my husband will beat the pants off the rest of us–I need a game where luck is at least a partial factor in victory!)

      I hear you on the shopping and such. I decided NOT to attend the office Christmas party this year because it will be maskless and indoors, and not everyone is vaccinated. As for my lack of holiday spirit, I blame it in part on the local radio station playing holiday music 24/7 starting 2 WEEKS BEFORE THANKSGIVING. I couldn’t listen to it. I shut my radio off entirely. So I think I got a late start on things because I was stomping around muttering, “It’s too soon!” ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Wingspan is GREAT! It has become one of the fastest selling games purchased by and for people who don’t play games much. It’s a great strategy game which is not too hard to play. There is some luck involved with the draw of the cards. That being said, there are ways to enhance your luck. My game group played it almost every time we met, pre-pandemic. I own the game and both expansions, though we haven’t managed to get to the second expansion yet.

        Wingspan is published by a St. Louis game publisher, Stonemaier Games. He’s becoming known for publishing smart, exciting, and fun games. The birds are hand-drawn art from two young women from Columbia, one of whom now lives in St. Louis. Their drawings have been published by Harper-Collins in the book Celebrating Birds. The facts on each Wingspan bird card are legit from the designer Elizabeth Hargrave. Here is a great article about her and the game: https://slate.com/culture/2021/08/wingspan-board-game-elizabeth-hargrave-review-profile.html

        Okay, perhaps I’ve gushed a bit too much. But when you sit down to play the game, you can surprise your husband by knowing more about the game than he does. Good luck and have fun!

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