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…it’s the greatest time of the year! Time for singing and dancing and time for joy and good cheer! Look at all of those presents just waiting there by the tree…

OK, so I grew up with the Chipmunks, what can I say?

It is, however, nearly “officially” Christmas time – for my family, the “season” always started the weekend after Thanksgiving. That’s when the songs started, the decorations started going up and it started to feel a lot like Christmas.

This will be a Christmas filled with firsts for me – last year was my “first” after leaving my marriage. This year will be the first (since becoming a parent) without the kids (they’re spending Christmas with their Dad). It will also be the first without Mom.

I have already taken down the Halloween decorations and the boxes of Christmas goodies have been hauled out.

I love the trappings of Christmas – I love the ribbons, the garland, the lights and the tree! It has to be a REAL tree too, one that smells beautiful and drops pine needles on the floor.

I even love dealing with Daisy, the Christmas Tree Ball Munching Boxer From Hell (I need to dig that post up and put it here sometime…) whose presence mandates that I refrain from decorating the lower three feet of tree with anything I value.

Though many may mourn the passing of the “true” meaning of Christmas, lamenting the lack of nativity scenes and being curmudgeonly about the commercialism – those are things I can happily block out. I may despise the marketing minions who, in their quest for the almighty buck, decided to put Santa up next to the Mummy way back during the Back-To-School sales, and I may miss the beauty of the public nativity (we still have one around here, thank you!) I’m simply enamored with the whole season.

It just seems that people are nicer. There are more opportunities to reach out beyond yourself, and more people do it with joy.

And there’s more than Christmas. That very same commercialism took a minor Jewish holiday like Chanukah and brought it to the eyes of many. Sure, there is a down side, but I challenge anyone to not find peace and beauty in the Festival of Lights! Skeptics may accuse Kwanzaa of being a “made up” holiday, but how can anyone be a Grinch about celebrating family?

So this coming weekend, despite the fact that I have so much else that needs doing, the decorations are starting! The laundry can wait while I hang the stockings and the vacuuming will simply be done after all the garland is draped and the lights are lit.

I even get to add to my decorations this year. Last year it was pretty basic – tree, garland, stockings, ornaments and lights. What shall I add this year? More garland? More lights? Lots of candles?

And with that, some thoughts on Christmas, not from me, but from others who have put it so well that I simply could never hope to do better:

Mary Ellen Chase
Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

Robert Lynd
Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.

Joan Winmill Brown
Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given, when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.

Augusta E. Rundel
Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.

And saving my two favorites for last:

Dale Evans Rogers
Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.

Dr. Seuss
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?