In many ways, I’m not a traditional sort of girl. I had a very small wedding, not the 150-person bank buster that seems to be de rigueur these days. I don’t plan on having kids, which puts me squarely at odds with a good portion of the adult female population (at least in this town.) And if I had my druthers, I would live in a condo over a house until the end of my days.
But when it comes to Christmas…well, I’m still not terribly traditional, but I do enjoy my own traditions for the holiday season.
Every year in the first week of December, we mull some wine or cider and erect our artificial Christmas tree. Growing up, I never had a real tree, so I’ve carried the tradition of plastic greenery with me into my own home. At the top of our tree is the angel that topped my family’s tree as I was growing up, and the branches are festooned with ornaments from my childhood, from our travels as a couple, and from our time together.
(Confession time: I love the look of fancy trees with matching ornaments, but to me, they don’t have much personality. I’ll take my array of mismatched ornaments that come complete with memories any day.)
For Christmas Eve, Ryan and I spend the night together as a mini-family, eating Chinese food, watching Christmas movies, and opening one present a piece (and usually our stockings, because my husband is an overgrown manchild who can’t wait.)
Christmas Day we split between our two families because they both live so close: one year, one family gets us during the daytime, and then we go for dinner at the other, and the next year, we switch. (Having these rules in place really has been a godsend, because without them, I would spend every Christmas with my parents, even though I love my in-laws.)
We’ve been together almost seven years, and I seem to enjoy these traditions more and more every year – but I must admit my favorite Christmas tradition has very little to do with Christmas itself.
I’m speaking, of course, of my annual viewing of the Office U.K.
The Office U.K. first came into my life eight years ago, right around Christmastime, through a friend who shared my same sense of humor. And every year since then, I watch the whole series again, usually in the week before Christmas.
And it makes me cry every damn time.
Not the series itself. I cringe – not cry – watching the episodes, though I’ve watched them often enough that I should be immune to the dry British humor and the awkward antics of Ricky Gervais as the clueless boss. No, I watch the episodes every year to get to the series finale – a Christmas special.
Now, if you haven’t watched the Office U.K, I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but I will say this: the Office U.K. Christmas special embodies the true spirit of the holidays.
Hope that, someday, life will get a little easier. Hope that redemption is in reach, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Hope that a happy ending is possible, even if you have to wait a little while. Hope that life will go on after good things end and good people leave.
And to me, that hope says one thing:
Never give up.
And that’s the kind of spirit I want to share during the holiday season. That’s the kind of spirit I want to take with me into the new year.