I love Christmas. Love, love, love it. Aside from the spiritual implications of the holiday, I love nothing more than a warm, cozy Yuletide with family, so the second Thanksgiving is over, I'm ready to decorate the tree.
Leo and I spend an evening with a roaring fire, eggnog (the real stuff!), and we decorate our tree together. I have stories about pretty much every ornament on our tree. There are some ornaments that are special because I've had them since I was a little girl, like the "Shrinky Dink" ones we made together. Others are important because they hung on my grandmother's tree. I have ornaments that were gifts- my stepmom used to give me an ornament every year, and each one was something totally different from anything I'd seen before- and ornaments that I made myself, like the satin ball I covered with beads from my great-grandmother's necklace. Then there are the "travel ornaments." Whenever Leo and I go on a trip together, we buy an ornament for our tree. And as we decorate, each ornament brings back memories and moments, creating one of the most pleasant nights of the year.
But it's not just the decorating that I love. It's the gifts. No, not receiving them (though I'm not going to lie...I do like receiving). It's the giving that I love. All year long, I'm like a spy, keeping my eyes and ears open and listening to my friends and family, trying to get some hints about what they want, thinking of what gifts might bring a smile to their faces. Sometimes I make gifts, sometimes I buy them online, but Leo and I always spend at least one afternoon out at the mall amongst the masses, enjoying the hustle and bustle.
The day before Christmas (or sometimes the morning of Christmas Day), I make my great-grandmother's persimmon pudding, a recipe that was passed down to my grandmother and my mother to me. As I read my Nana's handwriting, I think of her, and always laugh when I get to the part of the recipe that says, "Bake in a slow oven; 275 for an hour, then 300 for awhile, and 325 for a bit." It makes me giggle, wondering what "awhile" and "a bit" are supposed to mean, but Nana always made her pudding perfectly, and somehow, mine turns out just fine, too. Making the persimmon pudding is a special moment for me, as it really does connect me to the women in my family who I have loved and who are no longer with me. I feel like the keeper of a precious legacy that I will one day pass down to my children.
Christmas is a special day like no other. And though I don't get religious on that day and I haven't gone to church on Christmas Eve in years, there is a unique vibe in the air this time of year, something that's different from any other season.
Next year should be even bigger, warmer, and more exciting, as we'll have the whole family at our house for the big holiday dinner. Leo and I have already started planning. :)