As I woke up this morning I was a bit dazed as always and slightly confused as I am not used to being home anymore and was quite surprised to find myself in my own bed and then to look out the window and see the first snow fall covering the ground. Most likely the latest first snow fall yet this year. Although it means cold and winter is here I was still quite thrilled to finally have some white stuff and the prospect of playing in it it around the corner. And after all its December and Christmas is right around the corner and how could we truly get into the great Christmas spirit without that blessed white stuff to cover up the leaves we missed and the browning grass? Truth be told Christmas simply wouldn't be the same with out it.
As I looked out the window at the snow covered ground uncertain of weather to jump up and dance, go out and make some snow angles, or to pull the covers back over my head and hope that it would melt before I got up, I starting to think about Christmas time and why I love it so much. There are so many things I love about this time of year and maybe you do to. I have come to realize that everyone has very different concepts of what Christmas time is to them and various traditions whether they realize it or not that makes Christmas wonderful. Here are my favorites, what are yours?
As I mentioned Snow has always been a big part of Christmas for me and when I see in on the ground I always think of Christmas time whether it be the hours slaving away at the drive way, the countless snowmen and snow angles Jeremy, Alyssa and I would make over Christmas break. The times sledding in the front yard, snow ball fights or simply just eating snow and trying to make each other eat our home made yellow snow. We have certainly shared so many great memories out in the snow around this time of year and snow just helps at that extra touch of Christmas in the air. Even if I no longer have the hope of snow days to look forward to.
Even more important than the snow though, Christmas for me is only Christmas because of my family and all the times and traditions we share at this time of year together. I know that it would not feel like Christmas at all with out my beloved family. The picture to my right is me and my mommy and daddy on my very first Christmas 22 years ago. There are literally thousands of things that I could list that my family does at Christmas that helps make it so special but most importantly it is just that we are all able to come together an share and eat and talk and play and give and laugh all together and forget the other worries of our lives. My family is full of amazing and very interesting people and I am so greatful to have them in my live and to get to have them all come together at least once a year.
Going off of family I would have to say that my Christmas is defined in large part based on when we get together and where. Until I was 7 or 8 we always got together at my great aunt margie's house up in Binghamton we would get together with all my mom's cousins and relatives and all eat lots of food an then pass out presents and sit and open them all. (mostly us kids) I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to all the old people then other that to thank them for the gifts. After having games an stories we would always go out and look at the big Christmas light displays on our way home an then head quickly home searching for Santa's sleigh in the sky. When we got home without fail Santa had always beaten us there an had left us a note and PJ's and tooth brushes we would then put on our new Christmas PJ's (take a photo of course) then brush our teeth beg and sometimes succeed at getting to open one present before bed and then head straight to our made beds and clean rooms ( that was the one day of the year we had to make out beds) and wait till morning (5am). Then at 4 my brother would always try sneaking out to snoop at what he was getting and make sure Santa had come and wake me up of course and we would beg till Daddy would finally cave in and release all the booby traps that had been set up to keep us in our rooms till morning. We then spent the morning opening gifts always one at a time and taking photos and my dad always had the video camera.
After my great Aunt Margie died some new traditions were put in place as we then went to my Grandma Ritas with all my Dad's family every Christmas eve we would always pick names of cousins before hand and exchange gifts with that person, and then we learned a new gift giving game and always ate a lot and played board games with my cousins.
Another thing I will never forget about the Gould family Christmas is taking family photos usually for our Christmas cards which we always sent out way too many of, and too way to many different photos of in what my mom deemed photo shoots which we of course had to have many sessions of.
Once we moved to our current home we began a new tradition of having a big Christmas party the day after Christmas will all our family and friends playing games sharing favorite gifts, eating of course and just having a great time of fellowship.
Perhaps my equally favorite part of Christmas is giving and just finding that perfect gift for everyone on your list. And then of course all the baking and decorations and goodies to share as well. I just love being able to bless people in that way and love making things for people and this time of year is just a great excuses to be able to give and share with loved ones.
Growing up in a strong Christian home we always but a lot of emphasis on the real meaning behind Christmas and tried not to get so caught up in all the commercial stuff but make sure we knew what we were really celebrating. We would always make Jesus a happy birthday cake and sing to him every year and always read the Christmas story every Christmas eve and go to a Church service of some kind. I love the Christmas Carols we would sing and getting to light the candles in the darkened sanctuary. One of my favorite Christmas quotes is
Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.
There are really so many more traditions to list such as watching The Grinch and The Christmas Story every year and decorating the house and the tree as well as putting up the lights. I really do love the whole feel of Christmas time. But as this busy season of glee and festivities approach let us not forget the real reason we are celebrating. And this year make sure you take the time admits all that fun and reflect on what Jesus did for us and why he was born. We have a great reason to celebrate!