Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm a tree!

You Are a Tree

You love every part of the holidays, down to the candy canes and stockings. And you’re goofy enough to put a Christmas tree ornament on your tree!

What Christmas Ornament Are You?

I read that on Ward's post so visited the website to see what kind of Christmas ornament I was. I took the test and came up the same as Ward -- I'm a tree because I love every part of the holidays. And that is absolutely true.

As a kid, this was a magical time of year for me. We would go to church and hear about the birth of Jesus and sing Christmas hymns and pray and rejoice. Yet, my youthful mind believed -- believed -- in Santa Claus and all that surrounded him. I continued to believe way longer than others my age ... I didn't want to let go of that part of my childhood. Even after I knew, I played it up for my younger sisters for as long as that lasted.

When I had children of my own I made sure they knew the Reason for the Season and the wonder of Christ's birth ... but we also loved the magic of Santa and Toyland and all the fantasies of little kids. I'm sure my children played along longer than they really believed ... because they didn't want to disappoint Mom! (In the "Polar Express" I honestly think I can hear that bell ring!)

If there's snow in the mix ... that makes it even better! Living in the Shenandoah Valley increases the chances of a White Christmas -- or at least the chance of snow at some point during the Christmas vacation. That's when we pull out the sleds, light up the bonfire, crank up the chili pot, heat up the hot chocolate, turn on the "snow lights," and head outdoors to enjoy.

Cookie baking is a tradition with my sisters and and our children ... we set aside a weekend every December and bake dozens of different types of cookies for gift-giving and entertaining. What fun as the flour flies and a dozen choices of sprinkles scatter on the counter ... but more than the cookies, it's the time we spend together as moms with our children ... and sisters with each other. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything in the world.

My mom and her sisters used to make fruit cakes every year. I'm not much into fruit cake ... unless it is Mom's. Her sisters -- my aunts -- have passed on and Mom is the only sibling left ... but she carries on the tradition. Each fall we buy the candied fruit and nuts she needs for her ingredients, we cut out paper patterns to line the pans, and the mixing begins. Mom doesn't make just two or three fruit cakes. She makes enough to share with friends and family, and some to freeze so we're eating fruit cake until the next fruit cake season rolls around.

Caroling is another family favorite. I have a cousin who has a voice that would make the angels want to sing ... so she leads us as we sing at the piano everytime we all get together ... and we used to visit aunts' and uncles' homes to sing to them.

And what is Christmas if not shared with family and friends? I love to entertain. I love my little "shoebox" -- our home is cozy -- but when friends are here the walls "widen out" for everyone to fit in. I've always entertained because it's fun to cook and bake for everyone and to have the time to spend together laughing and enjoying the company of those who are meaningful in our lives.

I've had a few bah-humbug friends throughout the years who couldn't understand my love of this time of the year ... but they endured it, and I love them for it. I cranked it down a notch or two when around them ... and I'm sure they cranked it up a notch or two for me.

Christmas Eve is my favorite. There is a service at church which we sometimes attend and sometimes don't. Some years we have guests at our home; other years we enjoy just our own little family being together. The Christmas lights stay on all night at our house (perhaps to light the way for Santa? or maybe to entice to snow to come our way), and everything is rolled into one ... the love of family, the wonder of reading the Christmas story in the Bible, romance (when young and single I used to love Christmas Eve dates because it was such a romantic time), and the comfort of being together.

Merry CHRISTmas as we remember the Reason for the Season and the gift of family and friends....

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