THE MORE THE MERRIER.
The more the merrier has been a saying I’ve lived by all of my adult life. It’s been a way of celebrating the holidays for our little family from the beginning. Our children always loved the gathering of people at our house—gatherings that never looked the same from one year to the next. When the kids were small, they loved naming and counting the people who would be coming.
There was the revolving door of family—some years they all came and some years a few of them came—both sides of the family mixing together in a most wonderful recipe of personalities. There were those who liked their green beans fresh with a few simple spices and those who wanted the full-blown green bean casserole. Those who preferred stuffing over dressing and those who just wanted your basic mashed potatoes. There were those who turned up their noses at brussels sprouts and went straight for a massive serving of Patty’s Fruit Salad.
There was the little widow who was totally immune to the tryptophan effect and who talked my ear off while all the other guests enjoyed their post-meal nap.
There was my son’s classmate and his mother who were without electricity for a bit.
There were young loves and old loves and soon-to-be-loves.
There were people who found themselves alone on the holiday and were happy to have a place to come.
There was my dear old friend who never hesitated to tell me my turkey was a little on the dry side and the dressing needed more salt.
There were people at my table who are gone now, but new little lives have come to take their seat at the table and keep my heart full.
After all my field study, I still find the idea of the more the merrier to be true. So. Here we are in 2020 with Christmas Day coming in hot.
The question is this. Can the merry still happen without the more? Because at the moment, more doesn’t seem like the best option.
As I write, it’s the morning of the first day in December. My writing desk sits just beside my lit tree—a tree my four-year-old grandson helped me decorate a few days ago. The decorations that are so familiar to me are still new to him. He carefully studied them as we took them one at a time out of the old suitcase where they’re stored. He asked me questions about them. The taxicab with Santa waving through the sunroof. The little church that opens up to reveal Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. The tiny Adirondack chair. Under the lights of my tree, with just a few in the room, my little grandson couldn’t have been merrier. I couldn’t have been merrier.
For all these years, I’ve put merry into a box where the source of it comes only from people. If that’s true, this year will be the most unmerry Christmas of all. And I can’t let that happen. We can’t let that happen.
A new thought occurred to me that night—decorating the tree with my grandson—and it’s this. The more the merrier doesn’t only mean more people. It means more moments spent letting even the tiniest joys absorb into me down to my marrow.
The more the merrier. THE MORE THE MERRIER!
So I started my list.
The chimes on the courthouse have found their voice again, and where I live I hear them chiming all night long.
The taste of the first bite of holiday dressing.
The lopsided star on the top of my tree.
Hanging Mom’s and Dad’s stockings as I remember their how they loved Christmas.
Untangling Christmas light.
Looking through old Christmas photographs.
Addressing Christmas cards and thinking about the ones who will read them.
Walking through my town’s Christmas lights holding a child’s hand.
Sipping hot orange tea in a giant Christmas mug.
Sitting under the tree in the dark early morning with a good cup of coffee, thinking about the gift of Jesus in my life. Imagining what the first Christmas morning must have been like. Allowing the hope of it to wash over me again.
Wrapping Christmas presents while watching It’s a Wonderful Life.
Making Christmas cookies.
Johnny Mathis singing carols from my childhood.
Arranging a bowl full of pinecones I’ve collected from all over the world, as I remember the people and places I’ve seen along the way
And there are more and more.
A never-ending list of merry-producing moments. The more of these little moments I embrace, the merrier I am! I can linger in the midst of them for all of December, if need be. They will provide the merry until all the people come back. And even then, I won’t forget what I’m learning this Christmas.
The more the merrier.
It’s true again this Christmas season, but in a deeper and more meaningful way than ever before. I can already feel something stirring inside me, telling me it will be enough. I hope you can feel it too.
Merry December to all.