I love Christmas. Everything about it; from decorations to cookies, trees to holiday music. The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year - it marks the beginning of the Christmas season. We drag out all the decorations and transform our house to a winter wonderland, complete with several mini trees, porcelain nativity scenes and stuffed reindeer. My dad and brothers unravel all the lights (which somehow tangle themselves every year) and string them all over the house, fence, barn and yard. Our house is the brightest one in all of town.
Southern Texas doesn't get too cold, though it does begin to get chilly, and we wear our cardigans and hooded jackets. I've never actually played in snow before - though it has snowed, it never stuck to the ground. I'd really love to see snow one day, but I'll have to stick with frost for now. I love to go out in the barn and lay in the warm hay and watch the shapes my warm breath creates as it collides with the cool air. And there's something about a cold winter night that makes the sky seem larger and the stars brighter. Many times I've rode out on Snow White (my horse) in the dead of night to admire it - it's a truly breath taking sight.
People tend to be warm and cheery here, but Christmas brings out the very best in them. Everyone seems to be that much nicer, their faces brimming with the hope and joy of the holiday season. You can't pass someone by without saying "Merry Christmas!" or offering to bring a plate of cookies over. You can't be mean during Christmas, it just isn't right.
I don't know about you, but I have a major sweet tooth; and my mom goes all out on Christmas. Sugar cookies, gingerbread men, Russian teacakes, biscotti, chocolate covered cherries, reindeer chow, cake balls . . . the list goes on! I swear, I gain ten pounds just looking at it all. And then there's my dad's ham. He smokes it to perfection, and his glaze is the absolute best. You haven't lived until you've tried a piece.
I've never believed in Santa Claus, but I love listening to little kids talking about what presents he's going to bring, and how they're gonna stay awake all night Christmas Eve just to catch a glimpse of the jolly, old man. They're so full of excitement and joy, one can only be happy after listening to them.
Every Christmas Eve, everyone - parents included! - get to open one present, whichever they like. I always open the smallest one I have under the tree . . . I don't know why, but I've done that since as long as I can remember. Then, all my older siblings that have already moved out come over and we eat pizza, drink hot chocolate and watching Christmas movies, such as "White Christmas" and "It's Wonderful Life". I absolutely love it!
When Christmas morning finally comes, we all go to the living room and sit around the Christmas tree and listen to my dad read the story of Christ's birth from the book of Luke. Then, we all hold hands as he says a prayer. Can you guess what's next? Presents, of course! I love seeing the look of excitement when people rip the paper away and realize they've gotten exactly what they wanted . . . there's nothing like it.
After we've opened them all and cleaned up the paper and bows, the whole family (which I must say, is a lot of people) comes over and we have a huge Christmas lunch, but no one leaves until after dinner.
Well, there you have it, a glimpse into my Christmas! What are your families traditions . . . do you celebrate Christmas at all? What's your favorite thing to do during the holiday season?