Friday, December 11, 2015

The Best Part of Christmas

     What is the most wonderful thing about Christmas?  The season!  You know... the whole package leading up to Christmas.  Christians call it Advent.

     I love picking out just the right tree.  This year, mine is kinda short, but very full and fat.  It doesn't look like it belongs in a magazine.  Instead it has an assortment of ornaments that my family and I have collected over the years.  It smells fresh and it makes me smile when I walk into the room and see it standing there in it's decorated glory.  And don't forget the wreath on the door made from the tree trimmings.  Every time I open the door it smells like Christmas.

      Next are the lovely little trinkets scattered throughout the house that let me know it's that time of year.  It's a mish-mosh of candles, cookie plates, figurines and jingle bells.  And I love every bit of it.  As I unwrap each piece and search for a place to display it, I remember which of my loved ones gave it to me as a gift.  Some of them have fun stories of after Christmas shopping with a friend when we found the kooky item for a ridiculously low price and laughed while we waited in line to make our purchase.

     How about the holiday cookies and candies!  I could spend the entire month in my kitchen baking.  All those treats that I only make once a year calling my name.  But, what is the best treat of all?  My absolute favorite of all my Christmas kitchen treats...  When my son informs me on the day after Thanksgiving that it's time to make the egg nog!  There's a tradition in my house to never, ever make egg nog before Thanksgiving.  It started out as a rule when Sebastian was little.  It was absolutely forbidden to make egg nog before Thanksgiving.  If not for this rule, the child would have pestered me to make egg nog in the middle of July.  As a teenager, instead of viewing the egg nog ban as some form of great deprivation, he sees it as an exciting event that we get to begin on a very specific day - which he loudly announces to me the moment the leftover turkey is safely stashed away in the fridge.

     There's also music and movies.  I wait like an overly anxious child each year for my month long marathon of Christmas movies.  I watch everything from It's a Wonderful Life, to The Santa Clause, to Christmas Vacation.  It doesn't matter how old the movie or how irreverent, just so long as it puts me in the Christmas spirit.  And when I'm not doing that, there should definitely be Christmas music in the background.  Some Trans-Siberian Orchestra is ideal.

     You see, Christmas is a single day.  In most homes, the presents are opened and the space under the tree looks like a barren wasteland before lunch.  The children have wandered off to play while the adults finally relax for the first time in an entire month.  It was all such a blur and too many people lived though it in a stressed out, exhausted daze.  But it doesn't have to be that way.

     Today I heard two women discussing how much work it was going to be to get the "stupid tree" out of the attic and set it up downstairs.  Unfortunately, so many of us view the weeks before Christmas as a time of extra work.  We are so focused on finding just the right present to make a single morning perfect that we forget there's a whole month out there to enjoy.

     Please take a moment to stop and smell the Christmas tree.  Look around you and enjoy the beauty of all the Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.  Save the worries about your diet for January and enjoy some of those cookies that you just baked for your friends.  Appreciate the season.  And maybe your Merry Christmas can be a wonderful month instead of a wonderful day.

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