I am not a fan of cold weather. I tend to chase the forecast when I can, and find sanctuary in the warmth of the sun.
Yet, I am keenly aware of how damn happy this time of year makes me. There is a reason why “it’s the most wonderful time of year.”
It is not the presents; I am 28 years old, and the thrill of writing a Christmas list left me quite a while ago. It is not the time off; though, working in education and getting a whole week off is pretty sweet.
It is not that everyone is a little bit kinder this time of year -- they aren’t. Black Friday is turning more and more into "The Hunger Games."
Still, I get excited the first time I walk through a store and see Christmas decorations and trees on display (though, it happens in October now). Every year, I find myself counting down the days until my local radio station begins to play non-stop Christmas music.
I drive around neighborhoods just to admire Christmas lights. Even when I am experiencing “bad days” during the other 11 months of the year, I find myself putting Christmas music on to lift my mood, and nine times out of 10, it works.
Every year for the last 26 years, my father and I attend a holiday sing-a-long at our church, and trust me, I can’t sing. My favorite movie is "White Christmas" starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby.
So, while I sit here and sip my iced chai tea latte from Starbucks, which I proclaim on a regular basis literally tastes like Christmas, I ponder one question: Why has this feeling not been lost on me yet?
I am an adult; I do not have any children; I hate the cold, and yet, I am downright excited for this time of year. Why am I not jaded?
I believe it is the little things and the traditions about this season that keep me excited this time of year. I believe while unpacking all of that mistletoe, holly and tangled Christmas lights, I also unpack the feelings of years gone by.
Nostalgia and the smell of pine fill the house I grew up in as my father sets up the same two train sets he has set up my entire life.
I remember the year the tree fell down in the middle of the night. I remember my mom decorating, secretly hoping we wouldn't help because “every ornament has its place.”
My favorite holiday remains Christmas Eve, a time we have always spent at my cousin’s house, partaking in the Italian tradition of the “Seven Fishes.”
I still find myself impatiently waiting for my aunt to hand out her traditional lottery scratch offs to all of us, even though I never buy them for myself.
Christmas morning, as health conscious as I have grown to be, I still wait for my aunt to arrive and manage to eat three cinnamon buns for breakfast with my siblings because that is what we have always done.
My sister still waits for my brother and I to open our gifts first, so she can gloat that she still has presents to open long after we’ve finished.
The holiday season, to me, is a true and honest escapism back into my childhood when life was simpler, sweeter and more innocent. I didn’t just believe in the magic of Santa, I was positive it was all very real.
A line from one of my favorite holiday songs goes, “Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow.” As an adult, I know how truly lucky we are if we are all here this time next year together.
Life is fleeting, and nothing is guaranteed. I am eternally grateful for another year with family and friends. Though the magic and anticipation I felt as a child have transformed into what I feel today, it is still magic, nonetheless.
And, to every single one of you out there who still believes, I hope you all “have yourself a merry little Christmas.”