By Heather Long
I can't believe it's already that time of year, of course it seems to come earlier and earlier with every new retail season. Once upon a time someone asked me what was my favorite holiday of the year and I would have to say it was Christmas. or at least the Christmas season.
We have several holiday traditions. Among these traditions, no buying anything for yourself after November 1. This can be a real pain in the ass, particularly for those who have problems with impulse shopping. Not that I resemble this remark. Much.
When I was growing up, we always put the tree out the day after Thanksgiving. No Christmas decorations were allowed until Thanksgiving was over. While I still honor this tradition most of the time, I always found it strange that my parents did when they did not celebrate Thanksgiving.
In 2000, my daughter was born on November 30. I decided rather arbitrarily at the time that we would no longer automatically put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving because I wanted my daughter's birthday to not be so tightly associated with Christmas. In large part because I had several friends his birthday fell on or around Christmas Day.
My daughter liked this idea for a while, but now she prefers to put the decorations up on or around Thanksgiving. Most years we split the difference and do it the day after. This year, we’re actually doing at the day before. And although we are putting them up the day before Thanksgiving and decorating the tree, we will not turn on the decorations or the Christmas lights until late Thanksgiving night or the day after.
Why the difference this year? Because my daughter's birthday falls the day after Black Friday. Which brings us to another holiday tradition—Black Friday. Not my favorite day of the year. Why might you ask? I think it's because I'm not a shopper and I don't like big crowds. Of course that's exactly what my daughter wants for her birthday—to go Black Friday shopping.
Still, the beauty of the holidays is spending time together and if that means braving the crowds or putting up decorations early or taking an angel off the angel tree to buy a present for a child in need or as I'm doing this year with my holiday Marines and trying to donate a large sum to Toys for Tots, and that's exactly what we'll do.
Love is the ultimate form of loyalty, or so I read in a beautiful line in Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. It is the ultimate form of loyalty and puts the needs of the beloved above oneself. And I think at the core of all the holidays at this time of year we should always put the needs of those we love and those who are beloved above ourselves.
There is no greater gift than the joy in the eyes of another. I truly believe this. In 2000, I received the best Christmas present ever. My daughter was just three weeks old and all the presents under the tree, and all the decorations, and all the events, and all of the trappings—none filled me with joy more than she did. Every year on Christmas I am reminded of that simple joy. So whether I ask for presents or even want presents the only present that matters to me is spending Christmas with her.
May your Christmas be full of joy and may you spend it with someone that you love and may you enjoy all of the bounty of this holiday season whether it is the miracles of Hanukkah the joy of giving thanks on Thanksgiving, surviving the longest night of the year and celebrating the return of the light with Yule, or sitting up and setting up for Santa visit—may it be merry and bright!