Christmas Gratitude

Years ago, I decided that unless I wanted to be spending every Christmas holiday alone, I’d better make some new Xmas traditions for myself or I was going be awfully lonely on one of my all-time favorite holidays of the year.

I was in my fifth year to sunny Northern Ca. from the cold, wintry, snow-entombed Adirondack mountains of upstate NY, and what little family I did have in Northern Ca., left for the sunnier, warmer climates of Southern Ca. and left me wondering “what the hell I was doing alone in this land of Birkenstocks, tie-dye t-shirts, tofu and crazy freeways?”

I didn’t have the money, or vacation time, to truck all the way down to southern Ca the first year my brother and his family left; so I stayed in my tiny studio, bought my own tree, strung popcorn and cranberries and with little money (but a load of creativity!), decorated my abode as best I could and did a pretty decent job that first year, if I do say so myself.

Being the “people person” that I am, though, I decided that I needed more of a “human connection” for my second year in my studio and so began my journey to acquire a local family and start some memory-making new holiday traditions.

After pricking and totally numbing my fingers that first year stringing my popcorn and cranberries, I decided that maybe my “new friends” would have fun in “assisting me” with said new tradition, and thus started my road to new and solicitous holiday traditions.

What I never truly understood then, but totally get now, though, was that these personal, Christmas traditions that I started years ago to serve my altruistic needs for family and love in my life, ended up benevolently serving a whole group of others, in their needs for intimacy and community, as well.

The food, the decorating, the laughter, the games….all activities and undertakings that satiated this hunger that I had for human connection and validation…all activities and traditions that satiated their hunger for connection and validation, too…

Everywhere I turned, I was being emotionally bombarded – from the Christmas songs relentlessly playing, to the Hallmark card advertisements – all reasons why I should be having a “holly, jolly Christmas,” and yet deep inside of me there was this “Christmas hole”, of sorts; and somehow I, Lucie Benedetti, was on the outside of what everyone else was enjoying; and somehow I needed to become an insider and be part of what Hallmark and all these Christmas songs were promoting.

I needed my “Christmas Story”.

I needed my set of traditions.

I needed “the holly and the jolly” that supposedly everyone else out there was having.

And I needed it, that year.

And I found it – with a group of individuals that (unbeknownst to me, at the time) were looking for their “Hallmark Christmas”, too.

Over the years, a lot of friends have come and gone, a lot of popcorn and cranberries strung, a lot of Christmas tables meticulously designed and set, a lot decorations bought and put up; a lot of Italian dishes lovingly prepared and eaten and a lot of love and good memories creatively fostered.

And some of us have gotten grayer, fatter, and somewhat wiser, and to those of us who have taken this path together – to those friends who have left me willingly (or unwillingly), and to those who remain in my life and in my heart (both near and far), I say, “Thank you. Thank you for gifting me with your friendship of unconditional love and loyalty and kindness”.

“But most of all – thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making my Christmases the ‘holliest, jolliest, merriest’ of Christmases ever.”

May all of my friends, both new and old, be blessed with a year of good health, much love and a whole lot of unbridled, child-like laughter.

And I’ll catch ya next go-round, looking at life from my shoes.