But then it began to dawn on me that I was looking at this all wrong. So I wrote yet another post: Fresh Christmas, and I felt better because I had a plan. But I'll be honest--it felt thin and unsatisfying, because I came to it barely in time to give it a try.
However, now that another year has sprinted by, I'm having a chance to practice in real time what I glimpsed last year: to add to my collection a newly minted, never-happened-quite-like-this Christmas. And I'm glad to report that the sadness of last year is not gnawing at me like a hungry shadow.
Instead, I'm finding that this year, I want Christmas to be whatever it will be, and what it is--a day, a season that has not happened in quite this way before. Rather than trying to make it fit a pattern I absorbed when I was a child and then have tried to re-capture every year since pretending lost its realness, I am watching Christmas 2016 unfold.
This is not a lesser season for the fact that members of our family are halfway across the country, and others halfway across the world. It is not a lesser season because gift giving this year looks different. It is not lesser because activities are not as group oriented as on other Christmases. Something can only be lesser by comparison.
And how can we judge as lesser a day that has never happened just because it doesn't mimic one that has?
To re-create Christmas is an impossible task. Even if every piece matches, we're older, changed, and it's not the first time. In the act of re-creation, the magic of discovery is replaced with the damper of comparison.
And it is not by comparison we discover new treasures. It is by viewing each day, including this Christmas as a one-of-a-kind event, a day, a season that has never happened before and will never happen again in exactly this 2016 way. We can do familiar things with an eye for the unfolding of the new day, and let each variation and repetition of traditions be part of a unique occasion.
I'm going to find that out, one new discovery at a time.