The Perfect Christmas?

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving if you celebrated that holiday. This past Friday (Black Friday here in the U.S.), my sister-in-law and I made my brother turn from a Star Trek marathon so we could watch a Hallmark movie. Lest you misunderstand, I also was enjoying the Star Trek marathon. But around the fourth episode, I wanted to watch something else.

Anyway, the plot of the movie involved a woman following a list of activities she believed would make the perfect Christmas. For example, staying in a cozy cabin in the mountains (with the perfect covering of snow on the roof), singing Christmas carols, seeing The Nutcracker, making a gingerbread house, buying a real Christmas tree, baking, ice skating, taking a picture with Santa, etc.

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My brother glared at the television. “That’s every Christmas stereotype there is!” he declared, his lip curled.

I laughed, because he was right. But I couldn’t help recalling one Christmas season years ago, when a friend of mine and I followed a list of the quintessential Chicago Christmas activities. It included having lunch near the Christmas tree in the Walnut Room at Macy’s (which was Marshall Field back then), oohing and ahing over the Christmas display in the store windows, ice skating, checking out the Christmas trees at the Museum of and Industry (see photo below; it is not one of mine, however), going to see The Nutcracker (fail), etc. (Click here for a list of holiday things to do in and around Chicago.)

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We waited two hours just to get into the Walnut Room (see photo below; I did not take that photo either). While I was glad we checked that off on our Christmas to-do list, I can’t say the meal I had was memorable. It certainly hadn’t met my extraordinarily high expectations.

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And that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Unrealistic expectations often put a damper on our enjoyment of the holidays. I learned that the hard way.

This year, I don’t feel motivated to rush around, doing holiday things while trying to manufacture the “perfect” Christmas season. Case in point: I skipped shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Instead, over the weekend, I took in a good movie (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) with friends.

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And I don’t plan to stress about Christmas shopping. This year, I’m focusing on the things in which I truly delight, rather than the “have-to’s” of the season. Guess that means crocheting more reindeer to give away (not a have-to, but a want-to), seeing more great films (Moana, you are next), and having quality conversations with friends and family.

What, if anything, constitutes the perfect Christmas or Hanukkah season for you? What are your plans for the season?
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Crocheted reindeer thugs stage a coupe by blocking my coffee mug. While I’m not exactly sure what their demands are, I will make it a priority to find good homes for them this season. And yes, the keyboard below them is very dusty. It’s not one that I use these days.

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Rainbow Kate and her BFF Popette finally finished hanging the Christmas lights on Rainbow Kate’s house, to the delight of the children Kate babysat. But the delight turned to consternation when they discovered Kitty in the living room, drinking the last of the cocoa.

Christmas tree in the Walnut room from anadesigns.blogspot. Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry from commons.wikimedia.org. Santa from hdwallpapersforiphone.blogspot. Fantastic Beasts logo from geeknation.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

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46 thoughts on “The Perfect Christmas?

  1. I’ve rather boringly reached a point where my preferred Christmas is to stay home and curl up with Christmas TV and books provided by Santa, and have some long phonecalls with family. Being a child-free family, we no longer feel the need to celebrate on the day itself, so we tend to have a family gathering on a different day over the holidays, when transport is easier than on the day itself. And as for Christmas shopping, I fear that’s pretty much all done online these days. I think I’ve turned into Scrooge… 😉

    • I know what you mean, FF. Curling up at home sounds like a great Christmas. I’ve shopped online, thanks to Amazon. We have a big family gathering on Christmas. Everyone should be home from college by then.

      I used to wait for Santa to bring me the books I want. But this year, I couldn’t wait. I’ve been buying books left and right!

  2. Hanukkah is rather different, so you don’t really have that ‘perfect’ thing. It’s a lot more religious than the bulk of Christmas hallmarks. Latkas, driedel, gelt, and the menorah are all steeped in traditions, so they aren’t really optional. The gelt (chocolate coins wrapped in gold paper) might be optional and around as a treat that you win in driedel. By the way, only one on that list is even accepted by the spellchecker. Perfect Hanukkah is really nothing more than doing all of those things with family and we have 8 days to get it done. Honestly, it isn’t even one of the big Jewish holidays. The only reason it gets so much attention is because it’s near Christmas and businesses wanted to get Jews into the store along with everyone else. I remember being in Israel and a person said our puffing up of Hanukkah was rather strange considering what it is.

  3. I’ve never done the Black Friday shopping…those people are crazy. I’d rather pay full price than be trampled. 🙂
    My perfect Christmas is quiet time spent with my family. And my favorite tradition is breaking out the old photo albums.

    • I remember going Black Friday shopping at Best Buy. Three fights broke out in the store. So, yeah, I can see the value in skipping that.

      Ah the photo albums. My niece and nephew enjoy pulling those out and hearing the stories behind the photos. 🙂

  4. I’m learning to better appreciate the “unperfect” aspects of the holiday. Sure, there’s the stress of the usual family disagreements and lumpy mashed potatoes, but those are all part of the memories.

  5. Christmas Day is busy, but once evening comes my wife may be watching something on the tv, or the kids, and I’m content to sit by them reading a book but still dipping in and out of the conversation. Always the bookworm.

    • And good on you for being that, Andy! That’s how other good books are born!
      I wish I were getting books for Christmas. Alas, I usually beat people to the punch. No one one dares to buy me a book.

  6. We enjoy watching Christmas Specials every year ~ The Grinch, Home for the Holidays, and (my personal favorite) A Christmas Carol (any version).

    Last year, we decided to kick it up a notch and go see A Christmas Carol LIVE at the Van Wezel Theatre in Sarasota. I hated it. Big time. They changed some of my favorite lines to “update” the Dickensian language. Never again. Now I’ll stick with George C. Scott, Allistar Sims, Patrick Stewart, and Mr. Magoo!

  7. Evil Kitty, stealing the cocoa! I did Buy Nothing Day for Black Friday, and the truth is, the discounts are overrated. Anyway, buying something you don’t need or really want on a discount is still more expensive than not buying it at all. In past years, we’ve taken a family trip in the winter, but this is a stay at home year with one child back in school and the other one recently engaged and needing to save up for all that entails. The heat in my NYC apartment is more than sufficient to imagine I’m in the tropics, and for entertainment, we’ll check out all the tourists waiting in line at Katz’s and Russ & Daughters.

    • I’ll bet the view is great, Lyn! A friend told me she got some great deals on toys for the kids on Black Friday. Amazon has great deals every day!
      Congrats again on that engagement. Many people get engaged during the holidays!

  8. In the past, running around, trying to “celebrate” Christmas was more of a have to rather than a want to for me. I figured out the small quiet moments are what matter most. Btw, great reindeer!

  9. You knew those reindeer were going to be a handful. I hope they dusted off the keyboard. 🙂

    I truly enjoy letting Christmas come slowly. I take festive items out, slowly, starting with a few books, an angel, candles. We never put the Christmas tree up until after the 5th, my birthday, letting St. Nicholas show up on the 6th with treats in the kids’ shoes when they were little. 20 days is more than enough anticipation for little ones, and we leave Christmas up until Epiphany when the Wise Guys come. One of our daughters, when very young, called the Three Wise Men the Wise Guys, and, well, it stuck. 🙂

    We have family that observe Hanukkah. They often join us on Christmas Day and they bring their mennorah when the holidays coincide. It is a wonderfully meaningful time for all of us. My nephew, who shares my birthday, turns 13 this year, so, we will also be attending a Bar Mitzvah this December – and 12 days later, the Minnesota clan will be invading the Cutoff.

    In-the-meantime, I’m still cleaning up from Thanksgiving, and would get more done if I weren’t watching the Hallmark Channels all the time. I watched the same movie you cite, L. Marie, and I loved the scene where she dances with the children in the Nutcracker. It was just such a fun, joyful scene.

    • I hope you’ll have an enjoyable birthday along with your nephew, Penny. 🙂

      Yes, that actress in the movie always seems one of the most joyful of the ones you usually see in Hallmark movies.

      I love how you allow the holiday to slowly soak in. 🙂 I haven’t yet put up my Nativity scene. I think I’ll put it up today. 🙂

  10. We’re going camping this Christmas!! Yay! We used to go camping when we lived in San Francisco, mainly because (well we wanted to) and we didn’t have any family to visit instead. Since moving to Florida, we did the Christmas road trip for a number of years and I was glad when that finally stopped. I hate traveling during the holidays because there’s too many people on the road (including me!). As for shopping, these days, I shop entirely online and pretty much send my family and friends the same stuff every year. Christmas for me is the season of low expectations. Keep them low and you won’t be disappointed. Some family members insist that Christmas is not about gift-giving, but then that’s all they talk about later, as if measuring the quality of Christmas by what gifts were given. To be honest, if everyone could just forego the gift-giving part, I’d probably enjoy Christmas a lot more 😉

    • Are you knitting some of the Christmas gifts? I’m still crocheting reindeer.
      The Christmas camping trip sounds fun and relaxing, Marie. I wish you all the joy of the season!

      • Ah, no on knitting gifts. Christmas is too overwhelming as it is 😉 Many years ago I sent balsam wreaths to my sister and her sons’ families for Christmas. It’s become a tradition with one niece-in-law saying the season doesn’t start until they get their wreath 🙂 So I send wreaths every years with $ for the kids and sweet treats for others. So far, so good 🙂 I wish you all the joy of the season, too, Linda!

      • A wreath is a great gift, Marie! I’ve been eyeing wreaths myself. So fragrant! The Boy Scouts sell them.

        It’s already December 4. This month seems to be going quickly.

      • I know! 2016 is almost over 😬 I’d love to have a wreath too but it’s too warm down here. This time of year I really miss the north, including the snow 😉

      • I have one on the latest post. And I can’t blame you. Yesterday was a pain. The roads had not yet been plowed. I was grateful to get home. 😀

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