I was born on the 15th of December, 1978. When I was much younger I used to receive - along with scores of other December birthdayers, I suspect - an unusual amount of concern from friends that the proximity of my birthday to Christmas would result in an unacceptable deficit of cumulative presents. I believe, and always have, that this is just about the most absurd worry imaginable. Perhaps I'm not a demanding enough consumer, but honestly, truthfully, my utter joy for Christmastime has little to do with Christmas morning spoils and everything to do with... well... joy.
Etymology fanciers may know that the name "Natalya" actually translates into something along the lines of "born on Christmas day". Obviously, I wasn't born on Christmas day, but for as long as I can remember, my family has used my birthday as a sort of Christmas kick-off. The selection, collection, and trimming of our beloved Tannenbaum would always be done around the weekend of Dec 15th: filling the house with pure awesome, thoroughly charging our holiday spirit, and setting an unparalleled scene for the birthday party that would soon follow. And in the 10-day countdown between the day of my birth and the most wonderful day of the year, there swelled an atmosphere of very special excitement, anticipation, and wonderment, wholly unique to the season. For a few treasured weeks I could bask in the multi-color glow and balsam fragrance of our handsomely decked tree - hands down my most favorite birthday present - and all was right with the world. Seriously. Everything. Was. Perfect. So you see, rather than feel slighted by the fusion of these two celebrated events, I always felt fantastically lucky.
Age and an inevitable increase in responsibilities may take it's toll on the time one has - even one so highly inclined - to actually enjoy the tremendousness of Christmastime, and of course there are those for whom the taxing holiday crush and torrent of consumerist compulsion simply poisons the mood, but even (perhaps especially) during this wicked winter - one that for reasons I won't elaborate on has turned the holiday on it's head - there is a steadying, reaffirming peacefulness to this sweetest season that will not fail me. There will not be the typical spill of neatly wrapped gifts this year; we will refrain from cramming our schedules tight with festive gatherings; but in the middle of the living room stands an evergreen - a grand one at that - and it takes but a glimpse of that tree through the window from outside to remind me how spectacularly lovely life can be. And when I'm basking in it's glow this evening, surrounded by the surprisingly few truly important things (living and breathing) in my life, all really will, at that moment, be right with the world.
Dear friends, family and followers:
May you enjoy a thoroughly happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday ~ my love to you all.