Not Doing Christmas This Year

I was at a Christmas party last weekend, and enjoyed a terrific conversation with someone I don’t know very well; a lovely older woman. 
She told me that due to a recent difficult family circumstance she has decided "not to do Christmas this year." 
It was painful for her to get to this emotional resignation, the deep acceptance, that she just didn’t have it in her this peppy holiday season to provide food, purchase gifts, socialize, mail Christmas cards, cook, or decorate. 
She said, "I have given myself permission."
 It was such a graceful and self compassionate (she was not boasting in a selfish manner, and I could still hear some longing) but it was mature and wise and intelligent. 

Three points for the holiday that have been made clear to me recently, and you certainly don’t need my permission but, just in case...
1) December 25th is just another 24 hour day. Of course, it may have significant religious or spiritual meaning for you but we still have 364 other days of the year to celebrate our faith. 

2) If you were invited to a gathering, you can simply say "No, thank you for thinking of me." And if you choose to say yes, you don’t need to say,"May I bring something?" I don’t know about you but when I bring food or gifts there is always an over-abundance of food these days. 
Sometimes it’s smarter to show up empty-handed (I learned to say this after I had my second baby: "May I come empty-handed?" Otherwise, I began to dread the social commitment, and would cancel altogether). 

3) And finally, may be the greatest act of celebrating the end of the year is maintaining a small footprint, giving yourself a present, laying in the sun for 20 minutes, ordering a fancy meal to go and taking it to the beach, planting some flowers, writing a silly poem to an old friend, giving the dog a bath and a pretty red bow. 
Honestly, if that’s all you do on December 25th, or December 31st, or January 1st, those are extraordinary, lovely, meaningful, gestures. That's enough.

My youngest son and the crazy man, 2004