Be Of Good Cheer

There are two kinds of people that like theater. There are people who primarily like to experience theater; people who enjoy being in the audience. They love the shows, the production, the performances. They love watching a story unfold, discussing it with peers, and are excited for the next one.

Then there are the people who primarily like to produce theater. Actors, directors, writers, designers, composers, and all manner of cast and crew. They pour tremendous effort into the act in order to create something for others to enjoy. Of course, they get enjoyment out of it themselves, but it’s of a different sort.

While there is plenty of overlap between the two groups (many people can be both!), by the nature of the art there have to be more people in the former category than the latter. For everyone who contributes to theater, there must be scores to thousands of people who primarily (or exclusively) only experience it from the audience. That’s not only okay, it’s great. It would be absurd if it were otherwise.

Imagine meeting someone who loved theater, attended dozens of plays a year, and was a regular donor to their local community theater troupe, but never was a member of cast or crew themselves. Would you accuse that person of not having “the theater spirit?” Of course not.

This is how I feel about Christmas.

I love Christmas. But I frequently get accused of not loving it, because I don’t love decorating, or baking, or putting up trees, or getting/receiving presents (other than for my children). But I do love Christmas music, holiday movies, seasonal get-togethers (as long as I’m not hosting them), and the general spirit of the holiday.

I don’t feel that I need to produce Christmas any more than I need to produce a play in order to be a lover of theater. So this year, I didn’t. This year, I went full-on audience member. I took my kids to a ton of Christmas-related stuff (we went to a holiday-themed park attraction, we drove around town for hours looking at lights and listening to Christmas music, we visited Santa, we decorated gingerbread houses with family members), but I did zero decorating. We have a tree up now – I put it up and let my kids do whatever they wanted to it, and it’s more perfect than anything I could have put effort into. Come Christmas morning, there will still be plenty of presents under it.

It was… wonderful. Just getting to experience Christmas without having to feel like I needed to do anything to create it. Wouldn’t you know it, it happened anyway! And I got to spend so much more time with my children, so much more time being present with them, than if I was scrambling to manufacture magic.

Every single second of your life will happen. Most of them don’t need you to do much to them; they’ll be perfect the way they are as long as you’re there for them. Save your effort for the big moments, the ones that will cascade down into all those other ones, and then let those other ones come as they are. Live them.

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