I'm getting really into Christmas preparations this year. Which is ironic because this is the year I'll be spending the least amount of time in my apartment during the Christmas season – just two short weeks between the Saturday after Thanksgiving and this Saturday, when I'll be flying back to Tunis for the presidential run-off election. I'll be back just in time for Christmas in southern California with my family. Which all adds up to exciting times! Though I'll miss my friends' holiday parties and some of Christmas-music-everywhere season, I am excited – these are once-in-a-lifetime elections and it's a small miracle that we'll all be back for Christmas day. And I figure your mid-20s are for shaking things up at the holidays anyways, a blank slate between childhood traditions and creating rituals with your own family.
With a shortened timeline, I knew I had to act fast. I came back from Tunis with a resolution to burn lots of candles this winter. I now have both kitschy DIY Christmas candles (made from red and green Mason jars I filled with votives) and classy all-the-time candles thanks to Anthropologie's Black Friday sale. I love lighting them for dinner or computer work at the kitchen table – it makes everything feel just a bit more special.
I had also been itching for a real Christmas tree. 25 seems like a good age for a real Christmas tree. I had mostly talked myself out of it because, again, I am leaving the country. But we picked up a wreath at the farmer's market on Saturday for that nice evergreen smell. And then I convinced Austin to walk by our local elementary school's Christmas tree sale "just to look," like you do with puppies or craft supplies. They had a $15, three-foot-tall tree that was just perfect. And like with puppies and craft supplies, I couldn't resist once it was in my sights. It has been a great addition to the family. We now spend our leisure hours wondering whether it is drinking enough water, and removing and rearranging our four ornaments. I'm crossing my fingers it will survive through the twelve days of Christmas.
I also had the brilliant idea to send Christmas cards. This is both because I have fallen in love with paper and found some great local letterpress cards - and because it is dawning on me that we are not, in fact, going back to college after a long break, and I want to make sure to keep in touch with all those friends. I'm not sending a cheesy photo of me and Austin – instead just a funny card with a handwritten note. I wrote most of them with a candle lit and a Mexican martini in hand, as you do.
I haven’t done much for Christmas decor in the two years that I’ve lived on my own in DC – mostly just borrowed a little decorative tree from my parents. But we get to choose what our holidays look like – which also means making them happen for ourselves. In the course of these festivities, I realized that I had been waiting to be more settled before getting really into the holidays. To get engaged or married before sending Christmas cards. To live in a place for more than a year before getting a custom address stamp made. To celebrate Christmas at my own apartment before getting a real tree.
But I realized this year that I don't want to wait for all that good stuff until some more certain future. I want to commit fully to the life I'm living now. It made me think of Elise's commitment to fully decorating a space even amid frequent military moves, and the idea that you shouldn't wait on stuff you're excited about until you are not "moving soon." And nothing says "enjoy the moment" like a Christmas tree you will not spend Christmas with.