I’m Grateful for Christmas Spirit

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Every year at the start of the holiday season, it never fails that I cry the first time I hear The Christmas Song. You know the one. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…” and all of the other lovely things the singer croons about.

I’m a fan of Thanksgiving so out of respect, the holiday radio station doesn’t come on until December 1. But from December 1 to December 25, it’s all Christmas music, movies, and twinkle lights. It’s been that way since I was a child.

Or it was until last year.

Last year I cried when I heard that song, but for different reasons. My daughter was six months old and our lives resembled all of the calm of normalcy. However, despite the rhythm that my husband and I appeared to have, I was a mental train wreck.

Christmas did not fill me with the same childlike wonder it always had. The lights, trees, and warmth did not comfort me. I longed for these feelings to flood my soul, but all I had was the drowning darkness I had felt since my daughter’s birth.

For a long time, I stubbornly thought I would wake up one day “fixed” and I would be able to see the sunshine of life again. However, the holiday season did not bring relief, only the glaring reminder of my current mental state.

We went through the motions of decorating, my husband doing everything in his power to recreate the warmth of the season. I tried watching movies, but fell asleep or would forget to turn them on. The music frustrated me because I felt nothing instead of the happiness that usually bubbled inside of me. I couldn’t see how I would ever feel the same again.

That darkness finally vanished when my daughter was a year old. Sunshine took up residence in my soul and I felt like I could breathe again. I enjoyed every drop of the summer sun and all of the beauty of autumn leaves, but when I saw a house with Christmas lights out a couple of weeks ago, the tears that pricked my eyes fill my heart with absolute gratitude.

The spirit of Christmas that I thought would never return, had come back to me.

This year, I broke my own rule about no Christmas music until December 1. On the day after Thanksgiving, I could hardly contain myself, so I put on that Christmas music I had been waiting so long to hear. It was so good to hear my friends Nat and Andy again.

Holiday stickers are scattered all throughout my planner and I’ve already watched many Christmas movies. The tree and lights went up November 30 and I’ve got a list of all of the cookies I want to bake. I have yet another list of all of the Christmas related activities I want to do as well.

When I think of Christmas, my heart swells so much that I think I could burst from all of the holiday joy. By the time we get to December 25, my family will most likely be sick of all the festivities but I won’t care.

This year I’m celebrating.

Where there was once only darkness, there is bright light bursting. Where once there was a time when I felt utterly lost, now I find comfort in being found.

So if you see a woman decked out in Christmas gear, sipping a holiday drink, and singing carols as loudly as she can, just know that there is more of a victory there than picking out the perfect tree.

What is your Christmas victory this year?

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Kelsey Arender is a Lexington native who fell in love with her work in libraries in 2012. Prior to her recent career change, you could find her at the public library's children department. Now, she happily works in a middle school library. On the weekends, Kelsey and her husband, William, enjoy watching reruns of their favorite TV shows, attending church, and reading with their one-year-old daughter. Kelsey's favorite things include endless mugs of coffee, cozy sweaters, rainy days, and laughing with friends. She may be an introvert but if you start a conversation about personality types, toddlers, or hygge, you'll make a fast friend. You can find her hanging on Instagram at @we_all_get_sleepy.

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