The Presence of Joy


This is the season for excess in many things.  Excess spending.  Excess social events.  Excess decorating.  Excess food.  Excess stress.  How to deal with all of this and maintain the spirit of the season is the question.  I am writing this while in New York City, the mecca of excess.   I am trying to reconcile the dichotomy between a city that is over the top in many of these areas with the peace that I need to stay centered. That is a challenge.

I love Manhattan.  I love to walk the streets, window shop, and yes, shop.  This is one of the best times of the year to be in the city.  The Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center is spectacular, and standing in its presence is awe inspiring. The window displays on and in many of the shops are so beautiful people are spell bound, slowing down to stop and watch before hurrying on their way.  All of this, however, reinforces some of the distress I feel about having done nothing yet to prepare our home for the season. 

When I return home from this trip there is much to be done to put Thanksgiving away before readying for Christmas.  With only two weeks to go before leaving Raleigh to be in Georgia with our children and grandchildren for Christmas, I am torn about whether to do anything decorating wise for Christmas.  It seems foolish to take the time, and yes, to spend the money, to decorate for a season that is almost gone.  And we will even be out of town a few days of those two weeks!

It is clear to Mike that this should be the year, which will be the first year, that we do not put up a Christmas tree.  I am not so sure that I can (not) do this.  I remember being surprised to hear from some people in previous years that they made this same decision.  It always seemed strange to me that some people, (who actually were usually older people,) would make this decision.  Is it that I am now 65 that I now I understand it? 

Maybe it is about age, not just busyness.  Maybe it has something to do with not being home on Christmas morning.  It may also have something to do with us not entertaining this Christmas season, while there have been years that we have had several parties.  When there were others in our home to share the season’s beauty, going to all of the effort and expense to decorate for events that would only last a couple of weeks made more sense.  But even if it doesn’t make sense to do so this year, I am still struggling with the decision. 

I think it has something to do with my childhood.  I do not remember many Christmases as a child that included happy times in a home decorated for Christmas.  The loss that I feel from those years has nothing to do with presents, but presence.  The presence that was lacking was joy, the joy of people sharing the blessings of the season, surrounded by beauty, celebrating the the true meaning of the season.  While I know intellectually that the joy of the season does not require a Christmas tree or any decorating at all, I am having difficulty reconciling this emotionally.

I am not there yet.  I am not yet ready to forgo the Christmas tree this year.  But I am closer than I have been. 


About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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2 Responses to The Presence of Joy

  1. Elaine Matson says:

    Oh my, Patti. My sentiments exactly. However, I did go ahead and put up a tree and did do some decorating. One tree — I usually have a tree in the dining room and breakfast room, as well. I remember momma not wanting to put up a tree in her later years. Of course, she did.
    Albeit small. 🙂 I never could understand that. I said that I’ll never get that way. Never say never. lol Have a Merry Christmas!!!

    • Patti Fralix says:

      Elaine, I can totally understand MawMaw’s sentiments about the tree. But I did go ahead and put up a tree, although it is the smallest tree we have ever had. I also did minimal decorating. And now that it is done, I am so glad that I did! This is the subject of tomorrow’s post!

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