I have all these romantic, fond memories of Christmases when I was a kid. We’d drive about an hour away to a tree farm to chop down the “tallest of allest” we could find, then spend half the afternoon struggling to get it inside the house. My dad would carefully string the lights, determined to fix any tiny broken bulbs and bring 10-year-old strands back to life. We’d unwrap cheesy handmade ornaments (which I can’t believe my mom agreed to save) as we listened to anything from Bing Crosby to Handel’s Messiah.
On Christmas Eve, I’d gently shake the boxes under the tree, trying to choose the one gift I was allowed to open that night. The next morning, I’d run to the family room and stand in awe of the overflowing stockings and sea of boxes waiting to be unwrapped, counting down the seconds until I was allowed to wake everyone else up. Eventually, with plates of scrambled eggs and Mom’s homemade Swedish Tea Ring in hand, we’d begin the rounds of gift opening.
Over the years, the magic of the season has waxed and waned. Some years, the snow falls at the perfect moment on Christmas Eve while I’m sitting in front of the fire drinking eggnog, and it’s like I’ve stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. Other years, it’s anything but magic. Christmas Day is spent unexpectedly in a hospital waiting room, or the grief of an absent loved one is tangibly felt. Sometimes, the monotony of everyday living takes over – kids still get cranky on holidays, the flu sweeps through the family, the house needs to get cleaned, and any attempts to savor the season seem futile.
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