I can really relate to the guy in this Verizon commercial:

I took down my Christmas tree and decorations this past weekend, and my house just feels so barren and empty without the holiday décor. I miss it already. We still have all our outdoor lights and decorations up and it may take us until April to get all of that taken down, because my husband was in competition with Clark Griswold this year. Ours are more colorful than Clark’s but I’m pretty sure you can see our house from space.

But once that comes down, it will be over for another year, and I’ll hate that. Today was my first day back to work, and tomorrow the kids go back to school. I feel a sense of loss and a sort of nostalgia for the holiday that has just ended. Fortunately, today we had a big back-to-work luncheon celebration which ate a big chunk out of the middle of the day and made the day more fun and bearable.

Winter has always been my favorite time of year. I’m a displaced Yankee, so I grew up in the northeast where winters meant snow and lots of it. It wasn’t unusual to have a white Christmas in New York where I was born and spent most of my childhood, and the winter I spent in Massachusetts, we saw 99.3 inches of total accumulation of snow over the course of the entire winter, and had to exit our home from the second story windows on snow shoes at one point. (Granted, most of this snow fell after Christmas, but I was six and remember only the fun of the snow, not when it fell.)

Even as an adult I spent the better part of my life in Colorado. On the plains it is rare to get snow on Christmas day itself, but snow can and does fall as early as October, and I often said that God gave me the first snow of the year for my birthday in mid-October. We would get some beautiful snows up there; crystalline and white and crisp and dry. The lack of humidity in the area meant you could get snow one day and walk around in shirt sleeves the next, and often the snow would disappear as quickly as it came. My favorite snows were the ones that fell in Rocky Mountain National Park just an hour or so drive from our home. It was so quiet up there, and the snow was undisturbed.

Here in East Texas it is rare to see snow. We’re far more likely to get an ice storm that shuts everything down than to see genuine snow, but it does happen on rare occasions, and then it’s magical. The last time we saw snow was when our exchange student was visiting from Mexico. We had driven into Dallas to show her the Galleria and the world’s largest indoor Christmas tree and their indoor ice-skating rink. It had just started to get dark as we left the mall, and we could just make out the first few flakes falling in the street lamps as we came out. She had never seen snow, and was very excited to experience her first snowfall.

But it is the spirit of Christmas that makes the season more special. The holiday songs can’t start early enough for me, and we start light-looking even before Thanksgiving gets here. We have more Christmas themed movies than we can watch in a season, and never have time to get through them all even if we start in October. Family is very important to us and we love spending time together. This year, we had the added blessing of having my brother and sister-in-law join us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was a very special time.

Food is also an important part of the season. We have several Christmas cookie recipes that have been handed down at least two generations that we make each year, and now I’m teaching my daughters to make them. For Thanksgiving Day, I make my great-aunt’s Pizza Rustica recipe and we eat that for breakfast. For Christmas, I’ve moved the traditional lasagna to Christmas Eve (because my family would not eat the traditional Christmas Eve meal of fish) and we eat ham every Christmas.

Speaking of traditions, we started a tradition when the boys were small of opening one present on Christmas Eve. This present has always traditionally been pajamas, which we then wear the next morning to open our presents. It was fun to watch my grown son and his family carry on that tradition with their children this year along with us.

That’s why I feel like dragging the tree back into the living room and sticking my tongue out at the neighbors and telling them they’re all quitters. What about you? I’d love to hear about your favorite holiday traditions or memories.


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