Now that I’ve recovered from the Thanksgiving turkey coma and the perils of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (you did wear your flak jacket and body armor for that, right? Right?), it’s time to gear up for Christmas. I have a mini tree to adorn, holiday decorations to put on shelves and tabletops, and Christmas-themed videos to watch while I’m putting gifts together or concocting something in the kitchen. (It’s just not Christmas if I haven’t seen “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “White Christmas”, “A Season for Miracles” or “Scrooge” at least once.)
Christmas is my all-time favorite season of the year. I love the big, happy, crazy wonderfulness of it all, the little toddlers hopping up and down with excitement (or a chocolate-based sugar rush?), and the beauty of the colored lights hanging on homes and front gardens. I take some time out to just drive around my area and admire the lights. One home in particular is decorated entirely with white, gently twinkling lights — every tree, shrub, window, doorway and roof — and the effect is magical. (But my practical side wonders what their electric bill looks like afterward. Hmmm.)
A hotel I know puts together a gigantic and colorful gingerbread village, complete with a train that moves around the display and lights in each village house. (I’d eat the village but the hotel staff would frown on that. Or chase me out of there with a glue gun.)
My church also gets decorated. It’s an old, historic church that is beautiful any time of year, but especially at Christmas. There are bunches of white and red poinsettias in church windows, garlands of green hanging off the choir balcony, and even tiny bunches of holly and red ribbon tied to the chandeliers in the room where we gather for a reception after church.
I like to read Christmas-themed books during the season, too. If you’re looking for a brief rest from all the Christmas mayhem, I recommend these books for those times when you want to take a quiet break and prop your feet up:
1. Winter Solstice, by Rosamunde Pilcher. Five strangers in a Scottish country town have a better Christmas than any of them expected to have.
2. A Wayne In A Manger, by Gervaise Phinn. The author recalls some of the funniest and true stories of Christmas and Nativity plays from his days as a school inspector in Yorkshire. One child is convinced that “Wayne” occupies the cradle in the manger, another plays Herod with a major attitude problem, and Balthazar (the king with the myrrh) forgets who he is and begins wailing onstage.
3. A Christmas Promise, by Mary Balogh. Impoverished Regency gentleman gets conned into marriage with rich merchant’s daughter, to make her dying father happy. He thinks she’s cold; she thinks he’s a jerk. WRONG!
4. Stitches In Time, by Barbara Michaels. College student Rachel finds a mysterious haunted quilt while working at a store selling vintage clothing. Barbara Michaels often has female characters who are not afraid to speak their minds, one of my favorite features in her books. Rachel starts out timid but I like how she grows as a character, especially with the help of goofy and compassionate Adam.
And to get your Christmas off to a rocking start, I’m throwing in Olivia Olson’s performance of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in the movie “Love Actually.” She’s got amazing talent (and vibrato, even!). Stay sane during the holiday season, people.