For many years now, I have been trying to ratchet down the expectations for Christmas. I say "We are going to have The Worst Christmas Ever this year; I just can't do very much this time." And this year we did even less than the year before.
The very good news was that I found the Christmas decorations. In January 2007, in a fit of housecleaning mania, I had cleaned out the garage and given away quite a bit to the Salvation Army. Then at Christmas 2007, when it was time to put up decorations, we looked through the garage and could not find the decorations. We looked in the attic and the downstairs storage closet. We could not find them. I had a clear memory of donating some of the ornaments that we didn't like. But could I have made a terrible mistake and donated all our decorations accumulated over the years to the Salvation Army? We were all very busy with various things and so 2007 was the Worst Christmas Ever with no Decorations, not even a tree. But actually, it was still fine, although I did worry a little what friends and neighbors were thinking.
This year, the week before Christmas, I discovered all the Christmas decorations neatly packed in storage boxes in the linen cupboards. So we were off to a great start. But we had some emergencies come up and didn't buy much in the way of presents. Luckily, sometimes during the year I will see something that I think is perfect for someone and then put it in a big bag in my closet. So, I looked in the bag and did have some gifts. With just a little shopping, I had something for everyone.
Then on Christmas Eve, I just made a crab chowder for dinner. We did have a lovely Christmas centerpiece with three red candles and some evergreens and carnations that my mother had chosen for a florist to deliver. It was just a nice simple dinner and after dinner I remarked to my daughter that it was the Worst Christmas Eve Dinner Ever. We were so happy. We had had a nice dinner together and we were laughing. It just wasn't A BIG DEAL.
Then today we barely had any presents at all. But we did have some gifts and everything was just right for the person it was for. I was even given a book Blogging for "Smart" People. (Actually, it says Blogging for and then there is some paper taped on to the book cover with "Smart" People handwritten on it.) After we opened our few gifts, I said "This was The Worst Christmas Ever, but I am so happy." We were laughing because we had given and received gifts that we actually liked. We didn't have a lot of stuff we didn't want. It was great. But by the objective standards of our culture, it was The Worst Christmas Ever.
How is it that every year we do less and yet every year we are happier with the Christmas we have?