And do you know how I feel about all this?
I am that annoying person who hears Christmas music before Thanksgiving and wants to skip right past the turkey. I am infatuated with snow and I love the cold. My idea of a vacation is a secluded cabin right smack-dab in the middle of Podunk, USA, between the elk herd migration trails and a widespead chain of snowy mountains. I crave the peace of a morning after snowfall....where the sound of cars and animals and people is completely muffled by pristine white powder, fluffy and cold, almost beckoning for footprints.
Toss in some colored lights and the opportunity to sing along with Harry Connick Jr and you've got yourself a Christmas-crazed woman with stars in her eyes and never enough mittens.
My mom raised my sister and I with very little money and even less time. She worked full time while going to school and raising her babies. She didn't date, didn't drink, didn't smoke. I have no idea how this is possible. I don't know how she stayed so strong, for so long, putting her kids first always always always.
Every year we'd hear the same thing: "Now girls, this Christmas isn't going to be as big as last year because, well, I can't afford a ton of presents this year..." and yet every year, I was awestruck by the sight of boxes wrapped in the funny pages practically overflowing from under our tree. She made it magical. wrapping new socks and undies, presents she purchased on sale months ahead of time. I remember my sister and I were recipients of The Salvation Army Angel Tree on more than one occasion. One Christmas we were lucky enough to be selected to Shop with a Cop.....but at the time I was "too cool" to be getting free stuff with a cop. My sister came home with a truckload of stuff she picked out - I'm talking BAGS of stuff - I regret not going to this day!
We were lucky girls and never once felt needy or deprived. Our house was always fully-loaded with Christmas cheer. Each year we'd put on the same holiday CDs and drag out our perfectly-packaged Christmas decorations. We had a nativity that sparkled like ice and ornaments made by our grandmothers. My mom would almost always get pissed off and tell us to go away when she was putting the lights on the tree and without fail, my sister I would end up underneath that tree once the lights were untangled and glowing. We'd look up through the branches and oooo and ahhh with color-filled appreciation.
When the snow fell my mom would bundle us up like the small kid from A Christmas Story, the one who couldn't put his arms down. We'd fly outside and she'd pull us around on sleds, flopping on the ground to make snow angels and more snow angels and even more snow angels. She'd take "the long way" home so we could stare out the foggy car windows, wiping circles into the glass, trying to see every last Christmas light on every last house on our street. She was never afraid to slow down for the really good ones...the huge, intense displays of gold and green and red and blue lights with moving deer and sleighs on the roof. The three of us would simultaneously chime, "WWWWOOOOOOOWWW!" and my mom would stop the car, right there in the middle of the road, and we'd all gaze at the house for a couple seconds before puttering to the next one.
She always took us to church so we could learn about Jesus and Mary and Joseph, Angel Gabriel and the Three Wise Men. Our church had the best Advent Fair and every now and then, she'd have time to bring us down on a weeknight so we could smother a pinecone in peanut butter and birdseed, or cookie-cut a gingerbread man made out of cinnamon-scented clay. We had new, fancy Christmas dresses every year and let me tell you, walking into a packed church on Christmas morning, with the alter completely lit up and bursting with garland, two huge Christmas trees on either side of our Savior, hundreds of poinsettias dotting the aisles, carols streaming from the mouths of hundreds....well, there was no other feeling like it in the world.
We'd sit together at night, reading stories, having milk and cookies while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol, later listening to the sweet sound of my mom singing Silent Night before bed. Sounds like a storybook, ya? That was the magic of my mother. She could pull joy and special out of thin air.
Simple, sometimes irritated, always beautiful holiday memories. I want the same for my kids.
I get a thrill out of Christmas because of the way it makes me feel. Between nostalgia, more time at home with the kids, high hopes for snow, and absolute, heartbreaking joy when I hear the girls say "woooooow!" ......I'm pretty much a wintertime fanatic.
Happy Day After Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you each have a wonderful, colorful night.