It felt sacrilege, but my husband and I did not have a Christmas tree this year.  Nor did I bake any of our favorite holiday treats.

Say what?!  Am I some sort of holiday Grinch?  You must be wondering.

Actually, December is my absolute favorite time of year—between my birthday, which falls two weeks before Christmas, and the anticipation of Christmas, itself.  Historically, I’ve taken it upon myself to deliver “The Best Christmas Ever”—a pull-your-hair-out production that has involved frantic, last-minute shopping, up-until-all-hours holiday baking (gingerbread, persimmon pudding, sugar cookies), treks to Christmas tree farms in search of the “perfect” Balsam Fir, followed by a decorating marathon, and a designated day for entertaining guests.
Whew…!  By the time, all is said and done, I’m too spent to enjoy the fruits of my labor…

This year, we felt ambushed by the pending arrival of Christmas, so caught up were we in our busy schedules.

Even so, my husband was willing to stand by tradition and cart home a Christmas tree.  So, why did I vacillate right up through Christmas Eve (late afternoon!) when I finally, reluctantly, decided not to get one?

Because last December 25th, I had an apoplectic allergy attack to our Christmas tree—a very real phenomenon also known as Christmas Tree Syndrome.  A year had gone by, and my memory was fuzzy, overshadowed by nostalgia for that defining iconic symbol.  Had I really suffered that much?  Could it have been just that one tree?  But re-reading my own blog post about Christmas Tree Syndrome was reminder enough that I had made the right decision.

Instead, we hung a few ornaments on the evergreen bush outside our front door—and Merry Christmas to you, too!

Wheat, too, fell by the wayside.  It wasn’t an intentional diss.  Since I simply had no desire for wheat—by way of toast, cookies, or other holiday treats— we simply went without.  And it wasn’t missed.  Plan B?  I ventured into Paleo baking—with delicious end results!

Sometimes letting go of our preconceived expectations—and familiar routines—prod us toward the road less traveled. We may find, in the end, it’s actually the road on which we’d like to stay the course.

Though we had a tree-less and wheat-free holiday, it didn’t change the essential spirit of Christmas.  I daresay: it enhanced our time together: no mad scramble to buy a tree, decorate it, then take it down; no baking until the wee hours; no Herculean undertaking to entertain friends or family.  We had more time to enjoy simple Christmas pleasures together: an eggy Paleo pumpkin cake for breakfast; reading fireside; a long country walk through snow-dusted fields; a candlelit dinner of Prosecco and roast turkey.  Quiet conversation.

A worthwhile New Year’s resolution: Lose the expectations.  Set yourself free.