1. Mistletoe. Who doesn’t like an excuse to pucker up with your sweetie? A few years ago, my MIL got us a real one to put up. We now have it hung between the entrance way to the kitchen from the living room.
2. Candy Canes. I’m a sucker for these pepperminty treats. From when I was a little kid, I’ve always eaten them from the bottom up. They’re great for stirring hot chocolate, too.
3. Christmas Songs. From O Holy Night to Jingle Bell Rock, I can’t seem to get enough of these festive tunes during the holiday season. Some remind me of the power and meaning of Christ’s birth, others transport me back to my childhood, and then there are just those silly songs that I love singing along to like Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer and Dominic the Donkey.
4. Exchanging Presents. Every year, I find it fun to pick out gifts for people that I know they’ll love, which makes giving way better than receiving. But, receiving is pretty nice too. :)
5. Christmas Eve Service. I’ve always enjoyed this beautiful and meaningful service. Hearing the Christmas story read from the Bible, lighting the last of the advent candles, singing Christmas carols. The church that I grew up in had an 11 pm service, which meant that my sister and I were allowed to stay up until midnight. The next to last hymn of the evening before it turned 12 and we rang in Christmas morning was Silent Night, which we sang with the lights turned down low. It would inevitably move my mother to tears and now, as an adult I find my eyes welling up when we sing it.
6. Time spent with family. No matter what conflicts you have with your family the other 365 days of the year, Christmas brings everyone together and builds lasting memories that stay with you into adulthood. I always look back fondly on the times we spent celebrating. It’s hard to grasp that this is the first Christmas in my entire life that I won’t be with my family, which makes me sad. I will greatly miss seeing them, but they will be in my heart.
7. Celebrating the Birth of Jesus. I mean, that’s the whole reason for the season right? I love that during this time of year, the name of Jesus is openly proclaimed and heard even on secular radio stations. There is so much mystery and beauty surrounding this event which took place over 2,000 years ago and we do well to reflect on the fact that God became one of us. When you really think about it, it’s just overwhelming.
8. Decorating the Christmas Tree. Getting to open up those boxes of ornaments after they’ve been stashed away for a year and placing each one carefully on the branches is always a treat. I think it’s so special because you fill your tree with little trinkets that are personal to your own family and they tell a story about you, as well as contain priceless memories. When we got married, the set of ornaments Gregg had been receiving every year since he was born was passed on to us. The Christmas that we were engaged, his mom started giving me my very own because I was now part of the family.
9. Baking Christmas Cookies. There are fewer better smells than that of cookies baking in the oven: sugar cut-outs, peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles… No wonder that was all Cookie Monster asked for from Santa in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.
10. Eating Christmas cookies.
11. Christmas Specials. Every year I look forward to the myriad of Christmas programming that runs from Thanksgiving to December 24; classics like Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Muppet Family Christmas. It’s also fun to bust out the old VHS tapes of specials, some that don’t even air on t.v. anymore. Such as- A Claymation Christmas. People come on, we gotta bring that back! Who’s with me?
12. Admiring Christmas Lights. “One light goes out, they all go out!” It’s fun to see how people creatively decorate their houses with gold, blue and multi-colored lights, sometimes spelling out words of holiday cheer. Our one contribution to the neighborhood display growing up was always the “Christmas tree” out on the front lawn which my father made out of planks of wood and colorful lights.
13. Snow. Okay, barring a miracle I know there’s no way we’ll have a white Christmas here in Florida. So, since I’ll be admiring it from afar this year, I’ll just forget about the hassles of shoveling and that it ever made it difficult/borderline treacherous to drive and choose to remember the good parts: the way snow peacefully blanketed the ground and trees, turning our street into our very own Winter Wonderland and giving the holiday that special extra touch.
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