Saralee Perel

Perpetual Holiday Happiness

It’s a bittersweet day when we carefully wrap our holiday ornaments to store in the attic. But years ago, as I was about to take the stockings down, I thought, “If I put these away, there won’t be presents in them until next December! That doesn’t make sense.” So I left one up, where it stays all year. And every so often there’s a present in it.

Sometimes Bob or I will say to each other, “Have you checked the stocking?” It’s never anything big – maybe a candy bar or a crossword puzzle book.

Every Christmas, we have an elegant dinner by candlelight. This year, as I felt glowingly aware of the uniqueness of the day, time stopped for me in a moment of bliss. And I said to Bob, “Why can’t more days be like this?”

“They can’t,” he said. “This day is special because it comes once a year.”

“But that’s just in our minds. Life’s too short to limit celebrations to what it says on a calendar.”

We were savoring Yorkshire pudding when Bob said, “If we had this more often, we wouldn’t appreciate it.”

“Who says? Every summer when you bite into a lusciously ripe home-grown tomato, you close your eyes in a state of nirvana. Would you want one tomato a year?”

“No,” he laughed. “But holidays are different.”

“I think you’re wrong. It’s all what we tell ourselves. I don’t want to wait until next December to feel holiday joy.”

“But that’s when the season comes.”

“Why hold off until a certain date to rejoice?” I said. “We don’t need an excuse to celebrate. Can’t we make our own tradition of, let’s say  . . .  having the first day of each month a make-your-own holiday? It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. And it’s only 12 days a year. We could do something special, like order take-out Chinese – and eat it by candlelight.”

This Christmas, Bob gave me a beautiful glass snow globe. When I gently shake it, snowflakes softly whirl around a dainty evergreen tree. On each limb is a tiny red candle. It’s magical to watch the snow swirl as it slowly settles around the tree. And it brings back memories of when I was a little girl and I’d watch snow twirl around a ballerina in a globe, making her seem alive as the flakes made their way toward her pink ballet slippers.

I’m not putting Bob’s gift away, even though it’s a Christmas scene. It’s too beautiful to store in the attic. So it will rest on my mantle where I can treasure its beauty. And my favorite ornament, a hand painted Oyster shell from Wellfleet and of course the stocking, will stay downstairs so we can savor more bliss all year long.

I don’t want to miss any potential for festivity. Why would I? Where is it written that corned beef is only for St. Patrick’s Day or maple-glazed ham for Easter? Plus, must we wait for friends’ birthdays to give them a present?

And so, we made a pact to celebrate the first day of every month. “If we don’t set the date, we may not do it.” I said. It may be for us or a treat for a friend.

And frankly, I think making our own traditions is just as meaningful as conventional rituals. Because they don’t come from a calendar. They come from the love in one’s heart.

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on