I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas! My friends and family know that I love everything about this magical time of year. I cannot get enough of the twinkling lights, baking our traditional, Italian Christmas cookies, blasting Christmas songs and singing off key as loud as I can and, of course, decorating the tree. Yep, that’s right. I’m THAT person. Honestly, I can’t help myself.
As I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate the little things more and more. Traditions make me happy. The nostalgia of it all brings me so much joy. I’ve been blessed with countless wonderful memories throughout my lifetime. At Christmas time especially, the memories of cherished gatherings growing up with family and friends, only make me want more than anything to provide the same feelings of laughter and love to my own children, husband and the people in my life.
I know many people struggle this time of year and even battle depression. Most commonly because of having lost a loved one, or maybe lost their job and worried about not being able to afford gifts, maybe because of a broken heart from a relationship gone bad. In my lifetime, I’ve been in each one of those situations. I can absolutely relate.
I’ll never forget my first Christmas after my father had passed. Christmas 1999 was only four months after he lost his battle to cancer. And although I had my mom and sister and a beautiful, new goddaughter, we all struggled immensely going through that season without him. How did we get through it, you ask? How were we able to handle the cheer when our hearts were so saddened without him? It was because of him actually, and by the grace of God. You see, I know that I am the Christmas fanatic I am because my daddy was all about showing love and giving to others, without expecting anything in return. He painstakingly wrapped each thoughtful gift in coordinated wrapping paper, each of us had our own design (and still do). He and my mother always played Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand Christmas albums as they wrapped gifts, cooked, decorated and entertained for others. Those were, by far, some of the most wonderful days of my life. As difficult as that first Christmas was without him, I felt compelled to do Christmas right… for him, in his honor. So we carried on the traditions from year to year, ever since always making sure to share his memory, with his grandchildren.
This Christmas we all NEED cheer more than ever! It has been a terrible time of missing parties, skipping special occasions and no hugging. Many of us have to juggle work, while homeschooling and climbing the walls!?! I must say… I have seen more lights, on houses, up sooner than ever before. I myself put my tree (pictured here) up before Thanksgiving this year. I needed it. One of my Christmas wishes, my prayer, is for the good health of my family and friends. I am so grateful and have truly been blessed. I actually got two of my Christmas wishes, already this year (became the Mrs. in May and published my children’s book). Now wait… That does not mean my life is perfect. It never was and I’m quite sure never will be perfect. There are and always will be problems in life I want to fix, or struggles of one kind or another. Being joyful, especially at Christmas, is my choice. I could mope and complain about the things that are wrong (and sometimes I do), or I could revel in the beauty that surrounds me and be glad. I choose the latter.
When times are tough, as they often are, I feel down and struggle like everyone else. The thing is I make a conscious effort to notice God’s blessings all around us. There is wonder and beauty everywhere. The twinkling lights of house decorations. The acts of kindness by strangers more often than before. The sound of our children laughing. The old-timey Christmas carols that remind us of love, family and traditions. The handmade ornaments from many years ago and the new ones to commemorate special memories and love.
Take notice of the beautiful decorations. Listen to the words of an old-fashioned Christmas song. Snuggle with your love, watching Hallmark Movies with hot chocolate. Spread love and kindness by doing something for someone else. Allow someone else’s cheer to brighten your day and then pay it forward. I believe it truly is a season of miracles. So go ahead my friends, live your best life. And Merry Christmas to all!