Making Spirits Bright

I don’t remember when I first “found out” about Santa, but I do know that I kept on pretending long after that day. Part of it was because I didn’t want to stop believing in something so magical and fun, and part of it was because I didn’t want my mom to be bummed.

She was always incredible about keeping the magic alive, wrapping the gifts in different paper, writing in different handwriting, putting reindeer food on the deck, etc. There isn’t a Christmas from my early childhood that I don’t remember being special in some way. Along with traditions and large family gatherings, I also had that youthful innocence that made everything seem merry and bright.

Now, at age 31, I have to admit that I’ve become a bit cynical about the holidays.

Between the loss of traditions and large family gatherings, the rampant and unnecessary consumerism, no holiday break, a dash of deep depression and being forced to listen to “So This Is Christmas” while waiting in the doctor’s office, I would much rather just skip to January 2 when (relative) normalcy can reoccur.

I know, I know. Ba humbug.

But last Saturday night my mom was at it again, this time at the home with the old people. She came armed with two strings of colored lights, two dozen foam ornaments/treat bags I made the night before and a few other decorative things.


More arts and crap.

My grandma, stuck in her bed and out of her mind, delighted in the simple addition of one string of lights to her window, to the new snowman candy dish, to the battery-operated candle, to our off-key duet of “Jingle Bells” complete with (requested and stereotypical Polish white girl) dance moves.

And so was Jerry, the man who lives in the room right next door to my grandma.

His room, stark and empty in contrast to that of my grandma’s, soon was adorned with one string of lights, a battery-operated candle and a foam wreath and gingerbread man (he didn’t request the duet.) The look on his face—usually stoic and hard—was enough to make all spirits bright.

He had us move his wheelchair to the center of the room and turn off the lamp so he could sit there and stare at the lights, and he kept telling us how wonderful it was, how happy that string of lights made him. As we walked out the door and back into the hall, I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

Young or old, the magic’s still there as long as you choose to believe.*

*Off-key duet of “Jingle Bells” complete with stereotypical Polish white girl dance moves not required, but I’m pretty sure it couldn’t hurt.

Need a holiday gift that gives back? Buy the book.

30 responses to “Making Spirits Bright

  1. My husband calls me the grinch because I hate Christmas. Carols make my blood boil, haha. He thinks it’s because I’m from Australia, where it’s usually 110 degrees on Christmas day, so I don’t know what ‘real’ Christmas is like haha.

  2. Oh Abby. What a nice thing to do. I get blue around this season, too, which is why I refer to it as “the 12 days of cocktails.” xoxo

  3. Aw how nice! I hope someone does that for me when I’m old.

  4. Thank you! This got me all weepy in a good way!

  5. Great emotive post, Abby. I too am a cynic, especially when it comes to the Holidays, but I have found a way to enjoy them, somewhat. My sister and I text/email each other excerpts from as many carols as we can think of and try to guess which carol they are from. It gets me singing, humming and playful. I grew up with these tunes and they are still fun especially when I share and mock them with my sister.

    • That sounds fun! We usually go for movie lines from the classics, you know, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, etc. 😉

  6. Well nuts, Abby. Since my spouse and I are going to be 1000 miles from home the 21st – 28th, we were not going to decorate this year. But it seems I’m becoming just a little sad that we aren’t. Now I just have to do a little something. I think a couple of very small, 1 string trees will do the trick. Thanks (sincerely). I know I’ll feel better.

    • I don’t think it really matters if you decorate or not–it really is more of a feeling–but little things here and there can have a surprisingly positive effect. Safe travels to you and your family, and I sincerely thank you for reading!

  7. So sweet! It’s great to be able to make someone’s holiday brighter. Love thekitchwitch’s “12 days of cocktails!”

  8. Great. Now your mom knows you know.

  9. Aw, I love this. So amazing what a difference such a small gesture can make to someone. Sometimes, a little bit of light is all you need.

  10. What an awesome thing to do!

  11. You just totally gave me the idea to go to the convalescent home where my gram was before she passed away, and put up strings of LED lights and decorations for the patients. Thank you.

  12. What a nice thing to do! I’m kinda “over” the holidays too. It’s probably because I love Halloween and it seems that every year the Christmas stuff hits the stores earlier and earlier.

  13. Ok, now that I have wiped my tears…beautiful post, Abby. Thank you for sharing. I have just started reading your blog, so I came with my face ready to hurt from laughing. It is a nice little change up and very much appreciated. We don’t decorate anymore, and now I’m wondering how we can make someone else’s spirits bright with our strings of lights.

  14. Holidays bring out the best and the worst in us, usually at the same time!!

  15. That was beautiful! So nice that you could bring such joy to a lonely old man!

  16. Beautiful.

    Just beautiful.

    The simplicity of the lights.

  17. When you came to that bit about the lights and the old man you made me believe in the magic of Christmas once again. That is what is lovely about Christmas. I too remember clinging to the hope that Santa really dropped off my Christmas stocking late at night, until I realised he looked amazingly like my dad when I was woken by his footsteps

  18. Awwwwww! Abby! I love this post.

    I just wish I could have seen Jerry’s facial expression while gazing at the Christmas lights – for myself!

  19. I kind of love your mom… 🙂

  20. That is so wonderful that you do that. It’s amazing how the little things can make such a huge difference in a person’s life. It kind of makes me sad thinking of all the people there who don’t have anyone to visit them. I’m so glad you were there.

  21. It is we who creates magic:)

  22. I have to admit, sick though I get of the overplaying of every Christmas song on the radio, I never get tired of Christmas lights. They really do bring me a little of that magic.

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