Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today was the day! I got up early, popped in a Christmas CD and started to scrub, polish and sweep the house. It’s my annual after Thanksgiving house cleaning campaign. All the Thanksgiving decorations are down and packed away and the Christmas boxes are waiting! Once the floor dries, I’ll put up the tree, and then we’ll decorate, a little at a time, all night long. Tomorrow the elf village, Lladro Nativity and the “It’s a Wonderful Life” village will go up. By Monday, I’ll have the lighted holly garland up on the china cabinet and across the kitchen counters. My Whoville Christmas tree with a stuffed Grinch and his dog will fill my shelf over the refrigerator and my Precious Moments Christmas figurines will go on the shelf between the kitchen and living room. Little by little, every room in the house will be filled with Christmas cheer! My husband will put the lights up outside in his own good time. (I’ve learned not to nag or cajole.) The real Maine wreath will arrive on December 6th, Sinterclaas Day, and our house will be complete!

Then the baking starts! Several kinds of cookies (candy cane cookies, German Christmas cookies, Ricotta cookies, sugar, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies to start). Of course I’ll be baking my famous Whiskey Cakes, but hopefully this year I won’t set the kitchen on fire! (
I also make pistachio cakes for the neighbors and decorate them with sprigs of holly and poinsettia flowers. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh baked goods to set the mood for the holiday season!

I always have all my gifts bought way before Christmas, but now it’s time to start wrapping them! One year I thought I was smart and wrapped them as I bought them, but the tags fell off and I had to open each one to see what it was and who it was for. So let the wrapping begin! (I have to admit I do some cheating, I send fruit to the relatives up north and wreaths to the relatives down south.) I bought my Christmas wrap the day after Christmas last year, so I have plenty to choose from this year!

The final , dreaded job for Christmas is writing and mailing the Christmas cards. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my friends and relatives near and far. I love hearing from them, seeing pictures of their kids and reading family newsletters. I just hate writing mine out! I feel I have to put a personal note in them or people will think I don’t care, and it takes me forever!

But even with the cards and all the other work involved with getting ready for Christmas, I love this time of year. I love the scents and the sight of lights and decorations. I love the hustle and bustle in the stores and the friendly, lighter mood of the people I meet. I love the Marine’s Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army bell ringers and the gift trees at church! The boy scouts are collecting food and the community is sharing what they have with those less fortunate. I only wish this spirit could last all year long!

I’m heading out to the sanctuary where I volunteer this week. We’ll be wrapping the gifts that were so generously donated for the Chimps and Orangutans. To celebrate, the center will have a rare open house for members and supporters to thank them for their generosity throughout the year. I’ll be baking 10 dozen cookies, as will several other volunteers. On December 10th we’ll have the open house and auction. I can’t wait to see the apes opening their packages of toys, treats and surprises!

So I hope you are looking forward to this holiday season as much as I am. If you find you’re a little depressed or unhappy at this special time of year, let me tell you the secret to true holiday cheer! Volunteer! Find a cause that touches your heart and give yourself to it.

As Albert Schweitzer said: I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season!

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