The Postscript: Learning Christmas can change

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018

By Carrie Classon


In the midst of decorating for Christmas, I discovered I was covered in glitter.

A lot of folks get sad at Christmas. People get stressed and angry and fed up and exhausted—at Christmas and the rest of the year, for that matter. I don’t get depressed during the holidays, but I understand how it could happen.

I was married for many years to a man who was grumpy a great deal. When Christmas came, efforts to keep his grumpiness under wraps were quickly exhausted and he became pretty much intolerable.

“Christmas!’ he exploded on one infamous occasion. “What a fiasco!”

To be fair, my ex-husband laughed when I later put a picture of Santa Claus on our refrigerator and drew a caption bubble over his head saying, “Christmas! What a fiasco!” But, in the moment, I’m sure he did think Christmas was a fiasco and I will tell you frankly, I found his attitude hard to handle.

I might have more empathy now.

Because, in addition to the added social events and activities, Christmas brings a lot of baggage along each year. Christmas reminds me that nothing is permanent. The Christmas tree I remember is a pile of needles by spring. The children are grown, the pets are no longer with us, many old friends and family have long ago moved far away. Every Christmas carries the echo of every Christmas past. Every Christmas is a reminder of loss, of time passing, of the finite number of Christmases I have, and how I now have one less.

I did not have a Christmas tree for several years after my divorce. When I finally opened my old box of Christmas ornaments, I was not filled with holiday cheer but a profound sense of loss. I could not imagine hanging those ornaments again, or entertaining friends in the way I was used to or celebrating Christmas as I had all the years I was married. The thought filled me with grief—and I was right. Christmas was different.

But I learned something important: Christmas can change.

Now Christmas is coming and I love it for reasons that have more to do with glitter than actual reasoning and little to do with how Christmas used to be. I love that I can decorate the house in some fanciful way that is nothing like the way I used to. I love dragging live branches into my house and the smell of cedar on my hands and unusual foods cooking. I love the cheerfulness that seems to infect strangers I meet. None of this is quantifiable and none of it explains the bounce in my step or the wave of joyful energy that fills me, but I love the season and all it holds, all it represents, all it means—even if it barely resembles Christmases in the past.

That box of old ornaments remains in storage and Christmas now is lighter and less freighted with tradition. My new Christmas is with a new husband who has not yet declared the festivities “a fiasco.” We are both, I think, keenly aware how fast the time between each Christmas flies, we are determined not to let this precious time slip away.

Christmas must change because life does not stop changing—not for Christmas, not for anything—and there is nothing wrong in acknowledging the bit of sorrow carried in every Christmas. But then I will get out the pine boughs and the ribbon and feel my heart, once again, fill with joy. Christmas is coming and I am covered in glitter.

Till next time,


Carrie Classon’s memoir, “Blue Yarn,” will be released in April 2019. Learn more at