The holiday season 2012

When I think of all the happy holiday seasons I've had, I can't remember which one was the nicest. I think the best of times was when my children were growing up, and their excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning was near.

When I was young, my mother would tell me to get all my dolls together and clean them. She then washed and ironed their clothes and sometimes bought new shoes and socks for them. The idea was that if they looked good to Santa Claus, he might bring me another doll. This went on until I was 12; the most I had was 10 dolls and all of them different. I'd line them up on the couch for Santa to see, and never was there a time that Santa didn't bring me a new one.

Christmas isn't the same when you have no one to share it with. Last year was the first time I didn't put up a tree. I did decorate, however, went to a few parties, but the gloom I felt when I came home was awful. As I get older, the emotions and my thoughts have changed.

What was very important to me in the past was when the tree was up - usually on Christmas Eve. The last thing to do was to set up the nativity under it. Somehow that got to be my job over the years. My mother had a very small one that was "made in Japan," and then when I got married, we had several different ones. The last one was a beige porcelain one and very elegant, but I can't even remember where we purchased it or how long we had it. Now, I have a small Precious Moment display that was our gift to my parents.

Times do change, but the meaning of why we celebrate Christmas doesn't. For millions of Christians, the birth of Jesus is the reason they celebrate; for others, it's the gathering together as families, but no matter how people celebrate, I can't think of any other religion where the whole world stops for 24 hours. There must be something to it.

Over the years and in my religious studies, I've wondered about that. My beliefs have changed quite drastically, but the calm I feel when I hear familiar Christmas songs, when I'm in the department store and see the excitement of the shoppers and the decorations and when everyone seems to be in a good mood - that, to me, is what life should be all about all the time.

As I line up my thoughts and reflect on many of my experiences in life, what do I really anticipate for the days I have left? I really don't anticipate much at all, because I feel that my whole life has been a wonder and a joy from start to finish.

May your holiday season be one of wonder and joy also.