Yes, the Christmas season is upon us.
You have only a week left to complete your shopping, and even less to get all those cards signed, addressed and mailed. The cards you have received are proudly displayed in a prominent place in your home. And you are looking forward to a leisurely four-day extended weekend.
Your plans are made, whether you are hosting this yearís festivities or are traveling to attend them. Your decorations are hung, and the tree is just perfect. Boxes and packages wrapped with bright papers and vivid bows. The stockings are overflowing with little goodies. Christmas decorations are scattered around the house, from the red, white and green kitchen towels to the antique nativity set in the living room, lovingly handed down through the family over the years.
Children are sneaking peeks at the wonders piled under the tree, They pick them up, mentally weighing each one, shaking, listening, feeling. Anxious to learn what is inside the colorful paper. "Is it that one special toy I want?" they wonder. To be sure, they are making final additions to their wish lists.
Everyone you meet seems to be in the holiday spirit. From the clerk at the gas station to your coworkers and neighbors. Smiles come quicker, and cheerful sentiments abound. It is infectious, as you find yourself instinctively wishing everyone all the best of the season. "Only a week now," you think to yourself.
And before you realize it, that week has passed. It is now Christmas morning.
Before you can even think about it, the kids are tearing into all those brightly-wrapped boxes. You rub the sleep from your eyes and automatically grab the camera to document their excitement. "Yes! Yes!" they will scream with glee. In the blink of an eye, your living room has been transformed from a Norman Rockwell painting of holiday perfection to a total disaster, filled with discarded wrapping paper, bows and boxes that makes the dog very nervous. But the cat is having the time of her life.
Soon, the extended family has arrived. Siblings and spouses, parents and grandparents, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, some you havenít seen in years. All gathered together today for one grand celebration of family, food and fellowship. You catch up with each otherís lives, and marvel at the childrenís growth.
The fragrance of the kitchen soon invades every corner of the house. As eagerly as the children anticipated opening presents, you look forward to the feast that is soon to come. The collective cooking talents of the entire family is brought to fruition for the dayís repast. Edible delights cover every square inch of the kitchen countertops. Casseroles, salads, side dishes, and the inevitable pies, cakes and cookies make you gain weight just looking at them.
You happily Ďassistí the cooks in the kitchen, but you know it is just a ruse to sneak little morsels to satisfy your hunger. You are shooed out of the kitchen, and find total contentment watching the children play with their newly obtained booty. You resign yourself to the fact that by the time dinner is served, half the batteries will be dead. There are multiple conversations occurring at once and you try to listen to all of them, only to be distracted by the football game on the TV. The fumble, the 36-yard pass, the touchdown, all competing for your attention.
In the middle of all this, you find time to say a silent prayer to all the service personnel protecting our freedoms, wherever in the world they may be dispersed. As you try to catch the replay on TV, you are commanded by one of the kids saying "Watch me! Watch this!" at the same time you are talking to a cousin and wishing you could hear, "Dinnerís ready!"
It is truly a magical time of year.
Merry Christmas, everyone!!!!