A few folks have recently called me a Grinch or a Scrooge (or strongly implied it), because I don’t want to sing carols and decorate. But the thing is, Christmas can be really hard. And most of the time, I really don’t want to talk about it with anyone. Let alone people I don’t know that well.

I’m not going to tell them about I used to love Christmas. About how it was my Dad’s and my favourite holiday. How right after Thanksgiving, on the First Sunday of Advent,  my mom and sister would go off to Church and Dad and I would get to work. How we’d turn on the Christmas music and make tea and decorate every square inch of the loft. How we’d set up three different Christmas Villages.  And a train set. And multiple trees. And the wreaths. How Mom and Siobhan would return to a home that Christmas had puked all over. To Dad and me putting finishing touches on things while singing loudly along with whichever album was on at the moment. How deeply warm and right and comfortable it felt.

Or about that one year that we decided to buy a live tree and figured we could get it home together. How we stopped at a cafe for cocoa and croissants to fortify ourselves before hauling an 8-foot Douglas Fir half a mile on foot and then up three flights of stairs. And how we managed to do it without fighting, telling jokes instead.

Christmas was a thing Daddy and I did together; I doubt I’ll ever get it back. We’ve forged some new traditions as a family, and the holidays are again full of laughter and family. But no, I don’t want to play Christmas music throughout December. And I’ll pass on the wreaths and the trees and the Christmas villages. Without the Silly Old Bear’s voice booming through the Yuletide, it’s all just a pale imitation to me.

Maybe that does make me a Grinch. but I’m not the only one. Lots of people have a hard time around the holidays. For a lot of reasons. So sometimes, the best Christmas gift you can give is just letting it go.