The Holidays are Here

It’s November and officially my favorite time of the year. I always anticipate the holidays and, although I cringe at rows of ornaments that appear in Hobby Lobby each July, I usually begin celebrating the season a little before the calendar says its upon us.

Although I’m unbelievably (and blessedly) busy with work and forehead-deep in Charles Dickens and thesis prospectus writing for graduate school, this will be the first year in five years that not one day of the next two months will be spent behind a retail counter. I can already tell that my attitude of thankfulness is much more intense without the frivolity of Black Friday work schedules, training of seasonal employees, and bickering of customers too caught up in the consumerism of Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll be out there in the middle of the night throwing elbows in Wal-Mart, standing in line at Old Navy for their annual free gift (got me a nice  underwater camera last year). But shopping isn’t the reason that I love the holidays. Long, chilly fall-changing-into-winter nights, family gatherings, breaks from work and school make for the perfect time of year to focus on what’s important. Having had more time than ever before to ponder the fact that Cody and I are now our own family and might one day not so very far away have our own pajama-clad sugarplum fairies to tuck into bed on Christmas Eve, these first few days of November have been filled with hopes and plans for our own Winningham Family Thanksgivings and Winningham Family Christmases.

Here’s my list for this holiday season, in no particular order:

  • keep my home clean and inviting so that family and friends can pop in at any time
  • burn seasonal candles or oil each day
  • incorporate fall leaves/ evergreen into my home in vases and jars
  • keep seasonal music playing in the house during the day
  • fill an Operation Christmas Child box (completed Wednesday)
  • keep citrus fruits in the kitchen
  • attend the hanging of the green/ Christmas cantata at church
  • read part of William Bradford’s On Plymouth Plantation the week of Thanksgiving
  • watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • watch a Christmas movie with Cody every weekend in December
  • make candies for neighbors
  • have an outdoor tree on the deck
  • decorate a small tree in our bedroom
  • help my grandmother clean and cook for her holiday parties
  • host another couple for dinner in December
  • coordinate my wrapping
  • memorize the second chapter of Luke

The list could go on and on. I want to purposefully begin focusing our holiday celebrations and traditions on family and the miraculous reasons for these two favorite holidays, not how much money we have to spend on gifts or what’s going to be on sale at Belk’s. I want this and every holiday season to be beautiful and peaceful.  I want to prepare food to celebrate the history of our nation’s formation, not pick-up a bag of rolls at Winn Dixie on the way. I want to spend time on those I love, not just money.

These were my thoughts tonight as I look ahead to the exciting months of November and December.

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