What is the first thing that you think of when you see the word ‘Christmas’ in print?
Is it the smell of cookies baking? Twinkle lights proudly gleaming on their evergreen perch? All of the deals you might snag on the over-publicized Black Friday? Or is it something – or rather Someone much more precious? Christmas conjures up all sorts of images and thoughts in our minds. A Christmas tree with all the trimmings and presents piled high beneath it. Tables laden with a centerpiece that is a perfectly cooked turkey and every mouth-watering side dish that goes with it, snowflakes falling gently through the air blanketing the landscape in a dazzling coating of white. Salvation Army buckets outside of stores entrance or Santa Clause sitting at the mall patiently listening to children’s wish lists. Fireplaces crackling with bright cheeriness, cups of hot cocoa with marshmallows on a cold winter’s evening or a Christmas album blaring on the stereo – whatever thought might pop into our heads when thinking of the holiday, we all have traditions that mean something to us amidst the hustle-bustle of the season that should be anything but taxing.
A stereotyped cliché of the season is that American’s bury themselves under an enormous amount of stress in the quest to make the ideal holiday party, find that elusive perfect gift or get our holiday packages mailed out in time for the receiver to take delight in them on Christmas morning… and why do we do that? We really don’t have to have it “all together” or put on the “perfect” party – no one expects that anyway. I don’t think I can say that I have been “stressed out” over something the holidays brings (after all, the season is supposed to be a joyful one), but I have been known to be annoyed by my own irresponsibility for neglecting to start on a handmade project (that is meant to be a gift) sooner or complete my shopping long before the week leading up to Christmas day.
Christmas conjures up a whole host of memories and traditions at my house. My personality doesn’t mesh well with a lot of busyness so I always relish in the “small stuff.” Sometimes it’s buying one of my holiday secret indulgences like Oreo Candy Cane cookies and then eating nearly half the bag (most the time I don’t need any help doing that, either), and sometimes it’s thinking about all the people who are special to me but don’t live near enough to see at Christmastime. Each year I anticipate not only the fact that Christmas means my dad takes off time from work but digging out my dusty Christmas CD collection (I have “strict” rules about listening to the Christmas genre only during the holiday season) which ranges from Christian and light pop to country, popping one into the DVD player, blaring the volume (so loud that my dad usually comes home and shakes his head at me. *grin*) and hauling down the boxes overflowing with glittery decorations in order to properly decorate the tree. What I most definitely do not enjoy are untangling a years worth of lights and stringing them on the rather awkwardly placed tree – by the time I get through with that task, I feel like I’ve just wrestled with the prickly tree and barely come out the victor. After that the tree usually stays up a good portion of January. Another one of my most favorite seasonal pastimes (as you probably have picked up on) is watching sappy Christmas movies. Every Christmas Eve, my family opens one gift then stays up late into the night watching movies – and each year we make sure to hold one back so that we can see a new one as opposed to a re-watch. Prior to that I scour Amazon to find out which Hallmark films are being made available to DVD – needless to say, I end up with about a dozen new Christmas flicks before everything is said and done.
Lately, I’ve come to realize that this season has been different for me. In fact, in the last three months, I feel like I’ve changed. Each year, I determine that I am going to be “on top of things,” that this will be the year where I get done with everything in record time – from decorating to gift-shopping and gift-wrapping, and enjoy the rest of the holidays without the hustle-bustle of the “pressures” leading up to Christmas day. My priorities and realities are certainly different going into this season… now I feel… more focused. As a result, I am looking forward to this season with much anticipation – despite my complaining that I should have more of the shopping done! I cannot believe that 2011 is nearing its close but next to the autumn weather, Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. I relish what it stands for and in a trait given me by my mother I get such joy out of finding the perfect gift for another – in giving. Wherever you’ll be travelling or whoever you may be spending this Christmas with, remember the Reason that this beautiful season is all about. Don’t lose sight of the meaning this holiday represents.
What do traditions mean to you? What are some of your most-loved traditions?
…now, the only question remaining is – did you get in on some of those Black Friday deals? *grin* Merry Christmas to each and every one of you… may your season be overflowing with joys that cannot be found on store selves.