My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope
A break from the everyday grind lent me peace
I woke up Christmas morning to a blustery icy wind and the invitation from the corners of my home to get up and get out with Jernee in tow. Just before 07:00 a.m., I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active. We walked around the complex, toward the wind, our faces kissed by nature’s undeniable presence, and attempted to make our walk as productive but short as possible.
The air smelled like buttered biscuits and honey — so sweet; a come-hither-ish enjoyment that no one could deny. I was content. I felt loved. I knew the days after this special holiday would also be tests, but I had the feeling they would not be hard to pass. I can only hold fast to the idea this will be so. Jernee bounced about as if a new spring was in her steps — she sashayed ecstatically, happy to be out in the early morning air doing what she loved to do most.
I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active.
I braced myself for each brush of the wind, tightening up my jacket every few moments — checking my gloves, fiddling with my pockets. We did not linger on for the usual mile; we didn’t even do a half-mile. Christmas morning’s walk was truly about business — handling it and getting back inside as quickly as we could. The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life. I aimed to keep my health intact, and I foresee success in that area.
I opted to spend the holiday alone. I even began celebrating it Wednesday night by turning off my cell phone, but not before alerting my most loved humans of this change. I had it in mind to enjoy every single minute of my mini-vacation, and this included as few distractions as possible. There are holidays I revel in spending alone, and there are holidays when the pain of spending them alone hits me like a freight train.
But with COVID-19 looming its ugly head around every corner and hitting us harder than anything we’ve ever seen — it felt safer to remain at home. It felt safer to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and be in a heated space while doing so. According to a British study, they found — one in four adults feel as though they would spend Christmas alone this year. And while this is in the UK, the US is facing the same restrictions in various states because of a virus we cannot (and some do not want to) control.
When we found satisfaction from our walk, we came back inside. I fed Jernee and began prepping for my breakfast; sausage patties, buttermilk biscuits, grits, and a glass of eggnog. I savored every bite, thankful for the blessings of shelter, food, and the ability to adapt whenever necessary.
Christmas can be about more than survival. It can be an opportunity to learn to thrive in your aloneness. — Stephanie Foo, The New York Times, December 2020.
For those of you who have had to experience this holiday alone for the first time because of so many drastic changes this year, I can imagine your sadness. I understand your discontentment. I have been there — done that. Before COVID-19, I had learned how to properly love myself and be with myself without feeling as though I needed physical accompaniment from another. Having someone around to take in the wonders of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but this year — I needed the alone time. I wanted it more than I ever have.
The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life.
After breakfast, I began making my crockpot chili, which I paired with garlic-cheese cornbread. As the sauce blended with the seasonings, the smell wafted throughout my home and I only felt happiness. I could only feel happiness. My Christmas morning smelled a lot like hope. It smelled a lot like new beginnings and purposeful opportunities. I delighted in watching Christmas-themed animated movies and a few other movies too. I finally sat down and engaged in Hulu’s Happiest Season, which was shortly followed by On-Demanding Ip Man: Kung Fu Master. I read, wrote, watched more animated cartoons, ate heartily, and enjoyed snuggle time with Jernee.
I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more. This was the perfect holiday — I needed the rest. I earned the rest. My mom and I planned to see each other the following day instead, and Saturdays every other month are usually our meeting days. This should be no different. I look forward to our time together and I know she is looking forward to seeing both me and Jernee too.
The best thing about this Christmas for me is the non-rush of it all. I did not tackle any crowds. I kept it light on any shopping, doing it all online, and sent the parents of the babies and little ones in my life, money via CashApp so they could bear the weight of getting gifts for their children. Many will probably venture to say their holiday spent alone makes it a lonely one, but I will testify — this year, I welcomed the alone time. It provided me with seconds, minutes, and hours I should have found earlier on to do what I should have been doing, which is — truly enjoy myself in the comfort of my home.
Instead of remaining home out of fear and disinterest in the uncivilized, I remained home because it called to me. And I answered.
I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more.
I woke up on Christmas morning and the air was different — it was fresher and crisper. There had been a newness to every cloud and a hint of love in every gust of wind. There had also been hope as the silver lining on what we could consider a gloomy experience for others and a sprinkle of selflessness lurking in the bushes. Peace wrapped itself around me and reminded me of what it looks like sitting with oneself and admiring what I see.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I spent Christmas alone and doing so opened my eyes to what they had been closed to for a long time — we are, in fact, gifts to ourselves.
Originally published on Medium.