As the holidays seem to approach more and more rapidly every year, I find myself wondering where all the magic has gone. Why can’t I recapture that “Christmas” feeling that I used to get when I was younger? It’s hard to put into words, actually. Was it awe? Joy? Excitement? We’ve gotten so used to hearing about the “magic” of the holidays, it seems to me that we’re all a little numb to what that magic actually is.
Whether you’re loading up the car with bags from your local Target or navigating midtown Manhattan and wishing for the 6,128 time that day that you owned a vehicle, these days, the more bags you’re carrying, the less “Christmas-y” you feel. Has anyone else experienced this less-than-phenomenal phenomenon?
What happened to the lightness of being I felt when decorating sugar cookies with my mom, or catching my dad swearing under his breath while putting the lights on the tree? What I wouldn’t give to feel my chest expand in pure, unadulterated happiness at the sight of twinkling lights so beautiful, they bring an entire town together to whisper words of awe.
I miss the days of Andy Williams singing “Happy Holidays” and Karen Carpenter soothing me with my favorite verse: “Frosted windowpanes, candles gleaming inside…”. Now, when I hear Nat King Cole’s smooth, sexy voice wishing me a Merry Christmas, I want to cry—out of longing for days gone by, and the elusive meaning of a holiday that has become so commercialized, the celebration now begins on Halloween.
This year, I’ve vowed to try and recapture some of the meaning of Christmas. I’m waking up every day and acknowledging who and what I’m grateful for. I’m sending love and healing to the people who are struggling and in pain—and as we all know from reading the news, there are far, far too many. I’m listening to Christmas music on the commute to work and looking up at the sights around me instead of texting on my phone. I’m breathing in the cold, crisp air and kicking up the snow that recently blanketed Manhattan. I’m smiling at the hordes of little children who shuffle by, the magic of Christmas worn like a heart on their sleeves–and I’m trying not to squeeze them (stranger danger!) when I hear them say to their parents, “CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST THING EVER, MOM!”
I still have tangible gifts to give my loved ones this year. But they’re smaller, and more simple. Instead of spending more money on “things” for them, I’m trying to honor them with a donation to a charity I know they care about. For one sister, there is Mary’s Kitty Korner, a shelter and placement agency for cats that are in need of loving homes. For my other sister, there is a donation to the American Heart Association. And I’ve asked them to donate to Girls Write Now on my behalf—a volunteer organization that works with under-served teen girls throughout NYC to help them prepare for college through expanding their passion for writing.
As if she was reading my mind this month (I should be so lucky!), Oprah has listed some of her favorite charities in the December issue of O Magazine. Here, a few of my favorites:
Send a DVD to an elementary school teacher. The DVD, produced by the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, is an anti-bullying message.
Disabled veterans who are training for handcycle races will be supplied with energy bars and bottled water.
Children fighting chronic illness will be outfitted with a handmade costume he or she can rock during interactive theatrical performances at one of more than 50 hospitals, schools and centers throughout NYC and D.C.
Help cover one year of medical expenses for a female student in a developing country, so she can go to school and be the first in her family to graduate!
With less “stuff” to weigh me down, I’m slowly feeling like Christmas really is only four days away. While I won’t be home in time to decorate cookies with my mom, she happily recounted for me my dad’s swearing at the lights as he strung them on the tree. And when my niece and nephews shout over Andy Williams’ holiday classics, “CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST THING EVER!”, I won’t have to stop myself from squeezing them ‘til they cough.