“T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”
Christmas, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. From Thanksgiving to January 1st, homes are transformed and adorned with holiday decorations and twinkling lights. Christmas trees are covered in beautiful bobbles and our children’s homemade ornaments become the centerpieces of our family gatherings. Christmas carols and holiday music play in the grocery stores, the mall, and our homes, they float from the car speakers and are hummed while wrapping and baking. Our homes are permeated with the scents of pine, wood burning fireplaces, mulled cider, cookies baking in the oven and smells of dishes we make ahead to store in our freezers until company comes. The month of December is packed with Christmas parties, gift shopping, elaborate dinners and that one day circled in red when we all show up to a carefully chosen location, wearing our Sunday best, on the day that promises to have ideal weather as we try to capture that elusive perfect family photo. After 49 tries to capture the ‘perfect’ family photo, we decide the one family member looking a little ‘off’ will have to do. Then we proceed to fill out all our Christmas cards and stuff them with our sweet family’s smiling faces and best wishes to the receiver.
The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. Our to-do lists appear endless as it seems for every item we check off, two more take its place. We try to stay one step ahead, beginning our Christmas shopping in October and putting up our holiday decorations before the turkey is served on Thanksgiving day. But try as we might, so often we find ourselves one week out from Christmas, running to the store for that last minute item after realizing we forgot to buy a gift for Aunt Sally. Christmas is 7 days away and we still have to make the homemade chex mix and spiced pecans. All we can think about is how rapidly Christmas is approaching so we find our selves at the 10:00 service on Sunday morning hoping we remembered to turn off the oven, we arrive at work with our sewing kit instead of our purse, and the mulled cider was replaced by rum with a splash of eggnog days ago.
While the holiday season can be a stressful time, it doesn’t have to be. When I asked around about Christmas traditions, not one person said, “My Christmas tradition is to stress out over all the little things.” Instead, the answers I received warmed my heart more than a sparkly wrapped present or hot cup of cocoa ever could. Dr. Carter’s family traditionally goes to the Pleasant Valley Tree Farm where they pick out a Christmas tree and love on the world’s sweetest donkeys. The Carters adopt kiddos whose names hang on the Christmas tree and shop for them as a family. On Christmas Eve they bake cookies for Santa together, go to Christmas Eve mass and then when the children are snuggled in their beds, they read the Polar Express. Christmas Day they open and do a puzzle and then gather around the dinner table as a family to pray and share what they are thankful for. The staff of CFO also shared their Christmas traditions and among their answers were baking a cake for Jesus’ birthday, singing happy birthday to Jesus, reading the story of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day and watching Christmas movies with the family.
As we go in to the holiday season, our hope for each of you is you keep the stress to a minimum, maintain a healthy perspective on the Christmas lists, and remember the reason for the season. Gather your family and loved ones close, asthey are the most prized gift of all. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Be thankful for all you have and remember those who have nothing. If you don’t have any Christmas traditions, start one. Create a memory to be relived every Christmas through the generations. And last but not least, from Carter & Higgins Orthodontics to you, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light… Have yourself a merry little Christmas night.”