I really wasn’t trying to be difficult. I wasn’t trying to be argumentative. I wasn’t trying to cause stress or anxiety. Instead, I was being completely honest. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I always gave the same truthful answer.
“Nothing,” I always said to all of my friends and family members whenever they asked about Christmas presents. There honestly wasn’t anything I wanted. I already had everything I needed to be happy. I have good food, clean water, safe shelter. I have books and music. I have clothes, a job, a car. I have my five senses—and, many times, a sixth. According to a lot of people, I have an overabundance of emotions…and they are probably right! I consistently laugh, cry, and love without boundaries. I have family, even though I may get on everyone’s nerves sometimes. I live with three dogs who love me, and a cat that is still on the fence but is slowly getting used to me. I have friends who may not always be in my life but are always there for me when needed. I have freedom for adventure and travel.
What more could I possibly want, especially on the holiest day of the year?
As I have gotten older, the traditions of Christmas have changed for me. For the past several years, I haven’t decorated trees, or put up wreaths and holly, or accepted presents. I usually like to spend Christmas alone in meditation. Some people find this unusual but for me it is the best way to honor the Savior without the distraction and stress that usually comes with the holiday. I enjoy simple pleasures.
For example, I woke up at around 2 am on Christmas morning. I climbed out of bed and walked into the living room. I had a strong desire to look out of the big picture window and stare at the dark night sky and gaze at the stars. But instead of darkness and stars, I find a night white with quietly falling snow. I sat snuggled up in a blanket on the living room couch as I leaned towards the window and watched the snowflakes magically dancing across the front lawn. I prayed, meditated, and sang songs Christmas carols to myself. My mind also kept swirling around the events of the day. The afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2017, was spent going out to lunch with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. The day was full of laughter as my brother and nephew tried to “out-funny” each other. I tried to compete with them, too, but I couldn’t keep up with their quick wits and sly one-liners. I’m usually laughing too hard at their comedic challenge to think of anything funny to say. But that’s okay, because I have since become one of the best laughers around. This afternoon was no different; the event ended again with my brother mockingly yelling to his son, “You’re grounded for being funnier than I am.” And again, I found myself laughing joyfully before I finally got up from the couch and went back to bed to snuggle warmly and contentedly under the covers.
When I awoke again on Christmas morning, I carefully drove my car across the dusting of snow on the side streets to the local Quiktrip. I parked in a narrow space at the far end of the small lot. I grabbed my purse and climbed out of my vehicle. As I walked toward s the entrance, I noticed a young woman holding the door open for several people who walked into the convenient store. Her back was towards me so all I could see was her long, dark blond hair that flowed over the collar and down the back of her black and white checked winter coat. I approached the woman and circled around in front of her to get to the door. I reached out my hand to take the door from her, but she pulled back away from me before swinging her hand towards the entrance.
“No, please, go ahead,” the woman said to me as I now saw her sweet face and beautiful, big smile.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I said to her. But then I stopped and smiled at her as something my brother, Tony, always said to me. Whenever I refused gifts or tried to be defiantly independent, Tony would tell me, “Don’t deny other people the right to be good to you.” So, now, I smiled at this young woman and realized that she was giving me a gift. Kindness, the willingness to do simple things for other people, is a dying art lately. So, now, I looked at this woman and said, “That’s very sweet of you. Thank you so much.”
As I walked through the door the woman held open for me, she happily shouted out, “Merry Christmas.”
“Thank you. You, too,” I said back as I stepped into the warmth of the crowded store. I couldn’t help laughing as I looked around at the other patrons. Everyone was wrapped up in a heavy coat to ward off the winter chill. And yet, underneath the coats, everyone was wearing cozy, colorful, flannel pajamas or tattered, comfortable sweats. I have found my people, I thought with a laugh. I, too, had just slipped on an old jacket over my sweats before leaving the house. I love people best at their natural quirkiness. I love people who are just as comfortable walking around in nightwear as they are in business suits. And, of course, today was a day like no other as everyone politely dodged around each other as they whispered, “Excuse me,” “No, you first,” and “Merry Christmas.” I listened to the joyful, happy voices as I paid for my coffee and walked back out to my car.
I spent the rest of Christmas day in quiet contemplation. I was feeling blissful and at peace, just the way Christmas is supposed to be.
So, see, there wasn’t anything I needed for Christmas. But I had received the best gifts of all: laughter, kindness, peace…and once again, I had received from God and the Savior the perfect Christmas holiday!