The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Even though Christmas is over, I believe there is still much to be said about it and the holiday season. To me, December 1st is the start of Christmas. That’s when I’ve determined it’s appropriate to expect nothing less than Christmas lights, trees, decorations, candles, presents, cookies, traditions, movies, and music. But that’s not all I’ve grown to appreciate about Christmas.

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Since I’m in college now, I’m not around for most of the festivities that my family would always do during the Christmas season: baking mountains of chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and oatmeal cookies, dancing to Christmas music that blares from our sound system, making shopping trips for presents, and watching Christmas films.

In the kitchen, we would have boxes of cookie mix lined up along the counter in anticipation for an afternoon of baking. My mom and I would make the dough and get our hands messy by rolling it before placing portions on a tray to go into the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Soon, the smell of chocolate chips and cinnamon wafted through the entire house. Trans-Siberian Orchestra and classic Christmas songs filled the house as well, resonating just loud enough to cover our questionable singing.

Outside, string lights mounted around the eaves of the garage doors, snowflakes lined the driveway, and wired snowmen and reindeer framed glowing candy canes. Granted, our outward display wasn’t as impressive as some of our neighbors, but it was perfect to me, especially when you added all the single candle lights in each of our windows.

Then, we turned the music turned off and the TV came on with classic stop-motion Claymation films and cheesy Hallmark romances as we broke out the bins and boxes from the basement that housed all of our indoor Christmas décor. The many photographs and portraits that normally littered the end tables disappeared into boxes for a month while nutcrackers, Santas, Snowmen (the singing Norman’s Hallmark ones as well as regular ones) replaced them.

But, now that I’m older and life is more hectic and busy, the traditions have been altered to accommodate the little time that we have to do all of these things, making me want more hours in the day or a time machine to travel back to when we would spend all day just experiencing Christmas.

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

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My mother has this vintage carousel. Toy soldiers, elves, and Santa ride horses around a small red platform, which rotates and plays small snippets of carols when you press its front button. It’s easily over thirty years old and my favorite decoration. When I was little I would play with it for hours, watching the figures go around and around and trying to get the horses to line up with the front button. My mom would also light cinnamon scented candles and set up our ceramic nativity. The tree we saved for last.

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Some time ago, we had stopped getting a real tree but purchased artificial ones that you assembled at your leisure. So after the seven foot tree was constructed in the middle of our living room—fake pine needles littering the floor—we would string the lights in tiers, add the homemade garland, and start hanging the ornaments.

Not only does the nostalgia hit me hard during the weeks leading up to Christmas, but so does the excitement, anticipation, and infectious happiness. It’s my favorite time of year because there is so much to look forward to. As a kid, I used to love presents, but now that I’m older, I’ve found that it’s less about receiving what you want and more about getting to make and buy for those who you appreciate above all others and spending time with those you love.

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I love giving presents—crafting and purchasing items through which I try to convey just how much my parents, sister, family, and friends really mean to me. Yet, no matter how perfect the present is or how many hours we have together, it’s never enough. Words, gifts, time spent, and the spirit of Christmas just aren’t enough to satisfy, but that only makes me cherish the feelings that come with the season all the more.

It’s this attitude and the overwhelming feelings of love and happiness surrounding the nostalgia and the generosity of the season that make me smile brighter. And, it all culminates in a special energy that only this time of year produces.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ― Charles Dickens

All the excitement and positivity of the Christmas season tends to go away as soon as it’s over. That’s usually when everyone criticizes how the kindness and charity that intensifies during the holidays isn’t maintained throughout the entire year. I can only explain all the feelings that manifest in me are a result of the magic of Christmas. It’s true that everyone should be happy and cheerful and generous with gifts all year around, but it’s not the same as those few weeks between December 1st and December 25th, which never seem to last as long as you need them to but truly make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.

 

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