The holidays have arrived

8-20 Page 4A.inddLast year I would have cringed when I heard “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” crooning out of the speakers in my car at the beginning of November. This year, I turned up the volume knob and starting singing along. Christmas seems to come earlier than it did when I was a kid, but I think I understand why.

I’ve been back in the full-time work-force for almost two years now. As a single parent to two precocious “tween” daughters, my day starts the minute my alarm jars me out of bed at 4:30 a.m. No matter how much I plan ahead, the hours of 6-7:30 a.m. are a whirlwind of breakfast preparation, wardrobe crises, hair styling, and the inevitable “Mom, I forgot I have to have (fill in the blank) TODAY!”

After I make it through the carpool loop relatively unscathed, I’m off to work for the next eight to 10 hours, depending on my caseload. Once my day job is complete, my second job begins: housekeeper, chef, counselor, encourager, peace officer, banker, cheerleader, creative genius, teacher …. You get the picture, right? By 8:30 p.m., I am ready to go to bed so I can get up and do it all again the next day.

Christmas is one of the most magical, wonderful times of year, yet it is easy to lose the true meaning of the season simply because everyday life is such a whirlwind of obligations. For someone like me, I appreciate that I can do a little bit of Christmas preparation every day, starting early, so that by the time December races up on me in what feels like the blink of an eye, the opportunity to sit back and truly savor the season is possible.

We haven’t had Thanksgiving yet, but I freely admit that I have two trees up and decorated in my home (some people like snowmen — I like trees) and I have started pulling storage bins out of the shed so I can continue turning my home into a winter wonderland.

Just because I am preparing for the Christmas season early, doesn’t mean that I will leap-frog over Thanksgiving. How many other times throughout the year can one eat with reckless abandon without feeling guilty? Are you kidding me? I love Thanksgiving and am already planning the menu: turkey breast cooked to golden-brown perfection, moist stuffing abundant with celery and onion, buttery-creamy mashed potatoes, slow-cooked green beans with just a hint of smoky ham-hock, zesty cranberry sauce, decadent macaroni and cheese, Grandma’s homemade rolls and, of course, pumpkin and apple pies that would leave the most experienced pastry chef wanting more.

The best part of Thanksgiving for me is the family and friends with whom I celebrate the blessings of life. Having a Christmas tree, in the background of the dining room, decorated with glittered ornaments and twinkling lights, is merely icing on the cake and a preview of the next magical holiday on Thanksgiving’s heels.

In our home, Christmas might be starting a bit early, but not too early. July would be way too early. Mid-November is about right and allows me to celebrate and enjoy the wonder of it all a little bit longer with a little less rushing around.

Whenever and however we choose to begin celebrating this holiday season, of paramount importance are the time we share and the memories we create with our family and loved ones. Wishing all my readers a Thanksgiving bountiful with blessings.