It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Ican’t believe I’m actually going to admit this but (whispering) I really like watching Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. You know the ones I’m talking about – single mom loses job, car breaks down in tiny town, she gets a waitress job at the local diner and falls in love with a local cop; the whole town buys Christmas presents for her adorably cute children just as the snow begins to fall. The plots aren’t hard to figure out, but frankly that’s exactly the feel-good movie I’m looking for at this time of year: they make you believe that Christmas brings out the best in people and love always wins. Christmas today for many people is the mad rush to the mall to find the latest tech gadget. Christmas commercials begin before the discounted Halloween candy corn is off the shelves and the bell-ringer at the grocery store is wearing shorts because it’s still warm outside. (Okay, I‘m exaggerating just a little, especially this year, but you get the picture.) I’ve gotten caught up in the madness in the past: Have I bought enough presents? Maybe I should buy more. I can see why people get depressed during the holidays.

I long for the simple Christmases of my past. Christmas was a big deal but it wasn’t about presents. It was about tradition. It was the traditions that we enjoyed every year, things that brought the whole family together. We spent the month before Christmas making cookies and candies. We made sugar cookies, chocolate chip, peanut brittle and old-fashioned fudge with Hershey’s cocoa – all stored in festive tins in anticipation of holiday get-togethers. The windows of our home were simply dressed with fresh pine sprigs and old-fashioned Christmas lights. The movie A Christmas Story wasn’t shown 24 hours a day on cable TV. It was a one-time event and we all sat down together to watch it with a big bowl of popcorn and Coca-Cola.

My father would come home from work on Christmas Eve with a Scotch pine tree that we decorated with simple ornaments, candy canes and tinsel. We played Christmas music and drank hot chocolate, enjoying a plate of the cookies and candies we had worked so hard to make. Christmas Eve Dinner was always the same – a very simple, but decadently delicious lobster bisque and a warm, crusty loaf of French bread. Christmas Day was magical. I was always excited when I received enough Nancy Drew mystery books to read over Christmas vacation. My siblings and I spent a lot of time outside, sledding and building snow forts and every year we had an ice skating party on the pond behind our house. Evenings were spent playing the new board games we received as Christmas gifts.

I still remember my most favorite gift I received from Santa when I was very young. It was an ebony music box, the top of which was inlaid with mother of pearl. When I opened the box, a beautiful pink ballerina swirled around and around to the music of Beethoven’s Für Elise, which is still one of my favorite pieces of classical music. I was happy to pass on that memory to my granddaughter when I gave her a similar music box for Christmas a few years ago.

Well, that’s all for now. It’s snowing outside and I have some gifts to wrap. I think I’ll
light some candles and see what movie is playing on the Hallmark Channel. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. ♦


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