I love Christmas. Always have. Always will.
My parents made a big deal out of it when I was little, even when money was tight. It just meant the tree was smaller and presents fewer, but we still baked and decorated sugar cookies, filled the house with traditional music, and went to church on Christmas Eve. And there was always an orange and a handful of hard candies in my stocking, colorful treats I looked forward to on Christmas morning.
When my kids were little I continued the traditions. The day after Thanksgiving was the day we began decorating the house. As a working mom, I had to prepare a schedule so there was a day for baking cookies and my mother’s Christmas coffee cake, a day for tree selection and decoration, and a day for visiting Santa in a department store. Because we lived near Disneyland, we sometimes spent the day before Christmas wandering around the super-decorated theme park. The kids burned off extra energy and I got a little last minute shopping done.
I particularly looked forward to the specials on TV.
The beginning of the holiday season for me was not Black Friday or Cyber Monday. It was the first time I found Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the programming guide. My favorites were How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the old Bing Crosby musical, White Christmas. I learned every song and to my husband’s horror I sing them right along with the actors every year…loud and usually off key.
I love the colors, smells, and sounds of Christmas. But I think what I love most is the spirit of giving and loving that it represents. I know it’s a difficult time for those who have experienced loss, but for me it is a time full of hope and promise, a time when “paying it forward” is essential, and good memories crowd out the bad.
My kids are adults and live far apart, so some of the traditions have fallen away over time. But I still get excited when decorations go up in store windows and Santa appears in commercials. That’s when I know my favorite time of year has arrived.