By Caroline Clemmons
It’s here, it’s here, it’s here! December is my favorite time of year. I love the anticipation that leads up to Christmas. Sadly, once the day is finally here, I feel let down. No more anticipation. The tree looks lonely without gifts underneath. Yes, I know it's supposed to be about the "reason for the season" but I can't help thinking of it as a dual holiday. It is a high holy celebration. At the same time, it's a time to celebrate those people in our lives for whom we are thankful.
Today is another story. We have over three weeks of excitement, choosing the perfect gift for everyone. At least, I search for just the right thing for each person.
Last year I made some big mistakes. For instance: I gave a teapot to a one of my critique partners who, as it turns out, hates tea. No wonder she always orders water when we dine out. And I gave Hero a dandy set of fishing pliers that turned out to be for deep sea fishing and he only does fresh water smaller fish. My bad. This year, I aim for better results.
We plan a pretty quiet Christmas at our house this year with only us four. On Christmas Eve, we'll open gifts. Santa still fills our stockings overnight for opening Christmas morning. The custom accelerated years ago when Darling Daughter 2 learned just who filled the stockings.
She was ten going on thirty-five and said, “So let me get this straight. You always knew what you were getting in your stocking?”
“That’s right.” I agreed.
She said, “Well, that’s not fair.”
The next year, my stocking included a set of teapot-shaped holders for used tea bags. She had purchased them at a garage sale in summer and saved them secretly all those months. (I love cups of hot tea and use tea bags.) Since then, she has always wrapped and slipped a gift into my stocking, and the gifts are always special. She still starts shopping in summer for perfect gifts.
Darling Daughter 1 and Hero are more last-minute shoppers, but are gradually shopping earlier and earlier each year. I think both have already completed their gift buying. Darling Daughter 1 has made several of the gifts she gives.
Pretty soon, the other family members followed suit. Now, we add a present to each person’s stocking. We’re big on traditions, so I suppose we’ll continue the stockings as long as Hero and I live. After that, the custom is up to Darling Daughters 1 and 2. In the meantime, I love the practice.
If possible, we go to Christmas Eve services. By that I mean if we’re not sick and the weather permits. We are all highly allergic and fall is a bad, bad time for our respiratory systems. If we already have infected sinuses and/or have bronchitis or pneumonia, going into a very crowded sanctuary filled with people wearing perfume of every kind is hard. I remember one Christmas Eve when I had to help serve communion and my eyes were watering so that I’m sure everyone thought I was crying. Honestly, I couldn't stop the tears pouring down my cheeks as if I were weeping heavily. I received some strange looks at my inappropriate behavior. But, hey, it’s church so they have to forgive me, right?
Another tradition we observe is helping those less fortunate. They need help all year, but by this time, resources of worthy charities are down to the wire. We choose wisely from those organizations who funnel at least 90% of donations to helping those in need. Some organizations we support are St. Jude's Children's Hospital, Heifer Project, Salvation Army, and Lions International.
If you’re in the market for something to read, I have a perfect suggestion to get you in the mood for Christmas, STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS. That’s what the heroine of the story wants for the whole town, and she launches a plan to return the Christmas spirit to Radford Falls, Texas. Helping her is handsome hero Eduardo Montoya, cousin of the heroine of BRAZOS BRIDE.
Here are the buy links for STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00OQUTDXA
So, what are you planning? Going out of town, a quiet day at home, hordes of relatives pouring in? Whatever it is, I hope the day is exactly what you wish.
Marry Christmas to all!