O Holy Night

The older I get, the harder it is to get into the CHRISTmas spirit each year, and I can honestly say until I get the tree up, I am never fully engaged. Someone said to me once that the older you get, the faster time flies. Since I was young and full of myself, I couldn’t relate. Now, I know what they mean. I swear it seems like I’ve just taken down the tree and it’s time to put it back up again. Time really does fly.

Of course, that could be explained by the way I shop. My CHRISTmas shopping starts in January each year. The advantage of having a house full of storage capacity. The down side of all those hidey places is I hide them from myself. Before I start gift wrapping, I start the scavenger hunt. It’s actually kind of fun, because by December first I’ve normally forgotten what I’ve bought throughout the year, which means the presents are a surprise to me as well as the recipient.

A week or so before CHRISTmas day, I start baking cookies. Lots of cookies. You probably think I’m talking about a few dozen, but I’m talking about hundreds. On CHRISTmas day, after an early dinner with the family, Ed and I take plates and trays of cookies to the gate guards on Lackland AFB, several fire stations, and several police substations. Our small way of thanking them for all they do. Something special about seeing the young Airmen’s faces light up when they see homemade goodies. Working on an AFB on CHRISTmas day isn’t the most fun thing in the world to do. And you haven’t lived until you’ve pulled in beside a policeman sitting in his car, looking for speeders, (or drunks) and feeling dejected. A plate of cookies always brings a big smile. It’s a challenge to find the errant cop, but we do get to see lots of pretty CHRISTmas lights all over town.

By the time CHRISTmas day is over, I’m tired. There’s a lot to do before the big day and it really does kind of wear you out. You’re probably wondering about now why I’m writing all this. After all, if I want to complain, I could talk to Dr. Phil, I suppose. But I’m not complaining. I’m explaining.

In this convoluted way, I’m explaining why I hate to see CHRISTmas end. There’s a lot of work involved in having a “perfect” CHRISTmas, and by the time it’s over, I feel sort of at loose ends. It seems like I spend so much time shopping, cooking, wrapping presents, etc. in the days before the big event, that’s it’s almost a relief when it’s over. Until December 26th. Then, I realize I’ve spent so much time getting ready that I haven’t had enough time to just enjoy the occasion. We put all that work into getting ready for one day, and it’s over before we know it. I think that’s why I leave my CHRISTmas tree up for so long. Normally well into January. I think I enjoy it more after December than I do before December.

Eventually, though, it has to come down. That’s a sad day. The room without the tree in it looks rather blah. I did decide one year that a great timesaver would be to leave it up all year. I have a friend who did that for a long time. Of course, she didn’t have cats. When we tried that technique, we had to toss the tree and buy a new one. Even with it rotating all year, they still managed to chew through the light cords. So, we had a very prettily decorated, unlit tree. Unacceptable!

I actually do leave up some decorations all year. I know people think I’m strange, but if they don’t like the stockings on the mantle in July, well…they can go home where normal people probably live. It saves me time, and since there’s normally only about a month between CHRISTmases, (or so it seems,) I can get the rest of the decorations up in plenty of time. Plus, it serves another purpose.

Have you ever noticed that people seem a little nicer at CHRISTmas? When they’re not trampling you to get the latest toy, that is. Of course, since I’m never shopping on 24 December, angry, rushed customers aren’t a problem for me. I think if more people kept a touch of the holiday in their house throughout the year, we might all be better off. For me, it’s a reminder. A reminder of all that is kind and good about the world. A reminder that someone loved me so much they sent down the greatest gift one could ever imagine. It’s hard to look at my nativity set and not smile, because behind the glass it’s encased in (cat-proof nativity) is a baby in a manger. The first and best gift of CHRISTmas.

That’s why I’m always a little sad on 26 December. I know a lot of people are going to go on with their lives, living them with no regard for what the previous day really meant, and not being as kind as they were the previous week. I want to give them a stocking for their mantle. Or a cat-proof nativity so they will look at it every day and smile. Then maybe they’ll leave the house and smile at the first person they see. Love will become contagious. We could all use some of that.

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