Let's discuss Christmas, shall we?
A lot of times when I start to get anxious for the pre-holiday fun, people say "don't rush it!" or "it's too early!" I can understand the overwhelming feeling of I am so not ready for this when you first see decorations and Christmas cards being put up in the stores. It does seem to be earlier and earlier each year. You are barely finished taking down the Halloween garb and eating the last of the popcorn balls and there are sleighs and stockings in your face. Untimely, perhaps. And I realize that initial panic is triggered when thinking about Christmas shopping and fighting off crowds to buy hundreds of gifts before the big deadline. But I get stoked about the season itself. And all of the 'fun' and tradition that goes along with it.
Immediately after Halloween I shift my focus from orange and black to red and green. The ghosts, bats, witches and pumpkins are all stashed away until the following September (yes, September. I can only wait so long to see those adorable hoots). I don't transition into Thanksgiving fare at all, as I dislike Thanksgiving and sort of skip over it in my mind. So, basically, November 1st marks the start of the Christmas season for me. I start thinking about how I will dress up the mantle this year. I receive the coupon from the Christmas tree farm and mark on the calendar exactly which day we should go to tag our 'perfect-for-us' tree. I make a playlist for my ipod featuring all of MY favorite holiday songs so that I am not forced to listen to the overplayed radio favorites. Gregg and I designate certain days to watch our favorite holiday movies, like Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story. Those are the old standbys. Now, we are lucky to have Elf to throw into the mix. Don'tcha just love that movie? And then there are the specials and cartoons! I get so excited when that Boris Karloff narrated classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas is on for the first time. Granted, they show it about eleven hundred times during the season and I probably watch it eight of the eleven. We own Rudolph, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and Frosty the Snowman. I also have the Peanuts holiday collection - It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas - who could forget those?? And, because I really am a kid at heart, I bought the Garfield holiday collection - Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield's Thanksgiving and A Garfield Christmas - all appropriately titled haha. Every year I search the TV guide for Yogi's first Christmas. I can't let the season go by without seeing that one either.
We started a new tradition last year on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. We rode down to Mystic, CT, to the Old Mystick Village, to do some Christmas shopping. We didn't spend a dime but it was so nice to be there during the holidays. Everything was decorated with white lights, green garland and red bows. There was an 'old timey' brass band playing Christmas carols. It was as though we were in a Norman Rockwell painting. I couldn't have asked for a more festive feeling. We are really looking forward to going again this year.
Another favorite 'new' tradition is getting and decorating our tree for our anniversary. Our five year anniversary is coming up on December 4th and we're hoping the weather is nice on Saturday, the 5th, so we can continue to do so. We usually make the trek to Leyden's tree farm with our favorite Christmas music on, we cut the tree down, throw it up on the Jeep, shuttle it home where it prepares for it's annual 'clipping on the deck'. Gregg gives it a thorough 'haircut' while I move the furniture in the living room to make room for our spiffy yet temporary addition. We spend hours stringing the lights and shoving them as far inside the tree as possible for maximum glow. We act like little kids, still telling the same stories about our favorite ornaments that we inherited from our parents' collections. And each year I still feel the element of surprise when I pluck some forgotten favorites out of the overflowing box. These are the moments that I look forward to all year long.
It's not the traffic or the money or the crowds. It's not how many people you are having over for dinner and what on earth will you make. It's not the daunting task of writing out Christmas cards. It's not about hearing I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus four hundred times. For me, it's about time-honored traditions, heartwarming memories and the feeling of being a kid over and over again. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and it will only become more special as time passes and more memories are made.