Finding Holiday Gratitude

unsplash photo by ben white

by Christy Gualtieri

“Again!” My son said, just after the song was over.

“Bells!” His little sister shouted after him.

I sighed and pressed the previous button again.  The early notes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo” began to play in the car.

For about the fourteenth time in a row.

It’s a great song, don’t get me wrong.  But, like any song, too many replays will cause major “song-playout,” and what previously made the song great has the potential to make it more annoying.

It’s a metaphor for how I feel about the holidays, sometimes.  Do you know what I mean?


Before my eldest was born, I worked at a popular big-chain coffee shop, where the around-the-clock Christmas music would kick in before Thanksgiving.  I’d usually be an opener, so at 5 a.m., through the bleariness of my half-awake state, there I’d be, preparing coffee and unwrapping pastries to the tune of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and wishing for the following five weeks to hurry on up and get here because enough was enough.

I loved Christmas so much, and I felt that I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible.  It was just too much forced conviviality, too much joy! And Hope! But get it now, before it runs out! There was no time of preparation, no time of anticipation for happiness’ sake.  It was just a time of stress, and pressure, and serving coffee to people who were consistently stressed and pressured — and after a while, it all caught up to me.  The holidays, normally a time of warmth and joy, had been stripped down a to-do list a mile and a half long, with no end in sight.

Christmas was played out.  And because of that, I’d become numb to it.  And because I’d become numb to it, I’d missed it.  Completely.

And that made me so sad.


My son was three last year at Christmastime, and was starting to get the idea of who Santa was and what Christmas generally was all about.  He came down the stairs and as he opened up his presents, he had this tremendous grin on his face; and all he kept saying as he went from gift to gift was, in a voice absolutely ringed with gratitude, “Thank you, Santa! Thank you, Santa!”

And every cliche that you’ve heard your whole life about children reintroducing you to wonder was just struck me.  Not about getting the gifts, but appreciating and seeing each day as a gift.  Not about rushing to make sure I have the perfect gift or the perfect place settings or whatever the ideal is for the holiday, but seeking within and finding that just being myself was enough.

It was a great feeling, watching my son and realizing all of this in a new way.  It’s a feeling that I wish lasted all year long, even through the hard days when the holidays (or even just a peaceful day) seem so far away.

I so wish that same feeling of wonder and newness during the holidays for you.

Until next time, be well!

Christy GualtieriChristy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health.