The holidays are coming. The feeling of that is what sinks in deep, far past some upcoming dates on my calendar. The mornings and evenings are reminding me that rounds and rounds of celebration are within our sights. Cool gusts bring lift each morning as they usher away the dry heat of summer. Stores and algorithms scream at me to snap up deals and get it all now before it’s gone. It is coming; it’s almost here. 

And I have been peering into my boxes full of decor; looking through the items I set out each year, again and again. On my mantle and porch and tables. Boxes and tubs of trinkets and garlands and artwork created by my favorite little hands. My kids are begging for more and more and more. They are dreaming of every pumpkin patch and family get-together and soon enough elf arrivals and tree decorating and advent calendars. They love it all, want it all.

 And my heart does too. I love the fullness of the holidays. I want to jump all in and do it all. Make it all happen as I have in other years. I really do.

 We are tradition people in our house. Celebration people. It’s in our bones, offered and taught in deepest ways by the greats in our families and so many others we love. We are the luckiest to have so many extravagant celebrators in our worlds.

 But this Fall has been harder than most. Filled with giggles and time together and also significant health scares and survival and lingering anxiety. To set that aside as though it isn’t true would be insincere in every deep and real way. To pretend that real hard life has not and is not living in this house with us would be a facade.

 So as I stare down my boxes of tradition and holiday normal, I have a decision to make. I can press on and press in, ignoring what feels true right now OR I can let it be. Let this season be exactly what it is, good and also survival. More focused on the celebration of being human and still being right here with each other. Not so much on checking all the usual boxes.

 I have set my sights and resolve there for these holidays. I will do what feels right and good and helpful and celebratory and leave the rest in the box for next year. I can say yes to the events that bring life and joy and time together and say no to seemingly good things that just don’t fit or feel right this year.

 I know there is full permission all the years to do just that, but this year more than most I feel the need to say it out loud to my heart and head. To lay down expectation and perfection and the push to get it all out and up and instead focus on being right where we are. Letting our now, with all its bumps and bruises and unknowns, make this season of celebration real and true.

 And maybe you are here too, for whatever reason. Sitting in the hard or different or lonely or unknown. Unsure of how to force these holidays to look like all the best ones.

 Well, here it is. You just don’t have to. You can let it be what it is. You can see what helps and lifts and brings good and step toward those. You can leave the rest in the box.

 It’s okay. It really is.