Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“It’s That Time of Year…

...when the world falls in love..." as "The Christmas Waltz" croons...
Oh I love Christmas! For years when we'd get to June I would dance around and say to my Daddy, "We're half way to Christmas!!" To which he would reply with a groan.

Regardless of your religious beliefs or affiliations, this year is emotionally charged for everyone. (And for those of you not celebrating Christmas, please bear with me as I expound on my love for this holiday)

Although I am partial to hot weather, I do get into the cold this time of year and bundle up with scarves, sweaters and coats. I am not ashamed to admit I have a Snuggie and it is quite warm!
Hot chocolate and spiced cider are a regular part of my diet this time of year. I remember in my early twenties I lived on eggnog and Chex Mix during the holidays. Yikes. A new recent discovery is Pumpkin Spice Eggnog - OMG if you haven't tried it you must experience it - It is nothing short of heaven!

I start listening to Christmas carols mid-November and pretty much nothing else until January. The decorations go up immediately after Thanksgiving. I just love all the decorations everywhere - the mall, street posts, stores big and small, the neighborhoods that go crazy - it's all so beautiful!

And Disneyland....oh my...if you can get there this time of year it is absolutely magical. The decorations, the music, the fireworks and snow on Main street, the amazing holiday light display on It's A Small World and the unique show that is projected on to it...I can say is WOW! You have to see it to appreciate it but at the very least check it out here:
My husband and I go every year at this time. We were engaged there by the wishing well at Christmastime - it doesn't get any better than that for me!

But perhaps some of you are not feeling the love this time of year. We can get overwhelmed with all there is to do with the deadline of Christmas to get it all done. We have to make lists, figure out what to buy family and friends, possibly buy a secret Santa gift for the office party, go shopping, wrap the gifts, get Christmas cards written and in the mail, bake cookies, attend holiday parties and functions...although it's a fun time of year, it can leave us feeling completely exhausted and spent, emotionally and financially.

We often don't give much thought to the real meaning behind this holiday - I try to remind myself of that somewhat cliche saying, "Jesus is the reason for the season". It's a little cheesy but it does put things back into perspective for me. We have had so many traditions piled on to this holiday and I love them all, but when you think about it, most of it really has nothing to do with the event that inspired this holiday. I think most of us are aware that this time of year was chosen centuries ago to celebrate this event and that most of the ensuing traditions have come from pagan winter celebrations and customs originating from other countries and cultures that have melted and evolved into this big, beautiful, pot that we know today as Christmas.

Religious issues aside, I find that taking time to remember what made it so special and exciting when I was little helps me to get back into the spirit when get overwhelmed with all the stuff to do this time of year. Of course we were all excited about the gifts we would receive and the impending visit from Santa, but let me remind you of some of the childhood holiday staples that are still available to us.

A huge part of Christmas for me has always been any Rankin-Bass holiday special. Even though we can own them on DVD now (and most of us do) there is nothing quite like turning on the TV and unexpectedly coming across "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", "The Year Without a Santa Claus" or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". We all know and love the songs - "Silver and Gold", "Put One Foot in Front of the Other", and my favorite, "The Heat/Snow Miser Song" which is covered brilliantly by my friends Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. And how cool is it that huge movie stars participated in these children's' specials? Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Durante and Burl Ives all voiced characters in these specials.

And of course..."A Charlie Brown Christmas" and the music! Linus does a lovely job of reminding everyone about the real meaning of the season. Nuf said.

Another way to enjoy the season and get out of your head is to help others who are not as fortunate as you are. There are plenty of opportunities this time of year to give of yourself - your time, money, food, clothing, energy - whatever feels good to you. It will make you feel the joy and love that are really what it's all about.

And most of all, it is especially important this time of year to make time to take care of yourself, whatever that means for you. Make time to sit for a few minutes every day and do nothing. Have some eggnog or cider (or rum or Bailey's...whatever ;) and really enjoy it. Spend a few moments enjoying your tree and decorations. Just breathe. Everything will get done. And if it doesn't, so what? A few minutes to regain your sanity will not jeopardize your schedule.

I love the story of "A Christmas Carol" - I think we can all relate to Ebenezer Scrooge and his amazing, positive transformation overnight. It reminds us that we can make a major change at any time and that we are capable of keeping the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year long. Just know that anything is possible for you if you love yourself and others.

I will leave mention of my all-time favorite movie, holiday and beyond, "It's A Wonderful Life" for my next post. Until then...

Enjoy your holiday!
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