top of page

The magic of Christmastime

Oh Christmastime, oh Christmastime. It was always the most peaceful time of year for me. That is until I became a mom and stress replaced peace and the holiday season became a long list of things to do, gifts to buy, and events to attend. This year, I’m focused on bringing the magic of the season back. My goal is to spend more time taking it all in and less time worrying about buying, doing, and completing. I am aiming for a simpler Christmas. Less commercial, more sentimental.

Growing up, my mother loved, loved, loved the holiday. She decorated every inch of the house before Thanksgiving. That doesn’t seem so odd now, but I remember friends being shocked that our tree was already up a week before Thanksgiving. The house was completely transformed. Furniture was moved. Rooms were rearranged. Décor came down to be replaced with Christmas decorations. Christmas songs were the only music played from about November 1st through Christmas day.

I fondly remember sitting by the tree, the only light in the room coming from the strands of lights woven throughout the tree. My mother would be preparing dinner and listening to Christmas music. It floated in, to me, from the kitchen. The slow songs were always my favorite, White Christmas, The Christmas Song, and my all-time favorite, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I remember feeling so happy and at peace, sitting in front of that tree.

Lights play an important role this time of year. You may not know this yet, but I am in love with lights. As I look back, I realize that I’ve always loved the contrast of bright light against complete darkness. Like a brilliant star gleaming in the winter, night sky. A strand of pretty lights shining in the dark, cold night. Christmastime offers that up like no other time during the year.

This season calls for so many traditions. Like heading into Boston as a family to see the Enchanted Village and the lights in Boston Common. It always included a trip to Filene’s basement where we’d split up into teams based on which section of the store we wanted to shop. My mother and I always ventured off together and usually hit up the bakery upstairs for a treat that we didn’t tell anyone else about.

We always watched the children’s Christmas movies like Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town on tv the one and only night they aired. There were years they were on the night I had dance or skating lessons and we would race home afterward so we didn’t miss it. Eventually, we had a VCR and could tape them, but it wasn’t the same as watching them as they aired. Kids today have no idea of the struggle with their on-demand and streaming services!

We now have Family Movie Marathon with all of the classics, new and old. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Buddy the Elf flying overhead in Santa’s sleigh while everyone sings Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Part of Christmas morning was sitting on the stairs for a picture before getting to come down and open presents (even as adults with kids of our own). Curse words coming from my mother because her camera battery was dead every, single, time said picture was to be taken. My father had the camcorder set up in the corner of the living room to capture everything for eternity. It’s not embarrassing at all when, years later, your husband gets to see you lose your mind over a Whitney Houston cassette. Come on, it was her debut album, the orange one with her hair slicked back. You know the one. Who wouldn't lose their mind over that?

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation playing on a loop, in the background throughout Christmas day. Still happens.

My brother and I trying to convince everyone that Die Hard is a Christmas movie that should be watched on Christmas morning.

I played hostess, coat check girl, bartender (obviously this job was when I was older), and waitress on Christmas day, always wishing there was someone to take it over for me. No less than two laps, usually three, with the appetizers. I didn't get rid of that job until we started having Christmas at my brother’s house. Funny how we manage Christmas now without a hostess, coat check girl, bartender, and waitress. Hmph.

My grandmother and I have a tradition of a girl’s night in December. When I was little, it was dinner at McDonald’s, followed by shopping at Building 19 ½ and Stuarts. I remember a night I almost lost my life, being in the wrong place at the wrong time when they announced a special low, low price at the bin we were at in Building 19 ½. My grandmother pulled me out just before being completely suffocated by a hoard of women reaching into the giant bin to snag whatever was in there. We eventually graduated to a nicer dinner and better stores. No more “right now only” specials. No more crazy ladies willing to crush a child for an extra $1 off. We now treat ourselves to a very nice dinner and some casual browsing with the real intention of chatting and catching up.

Some traditions remain while others have changed or disappeared, but I will always keep the long-passed traditions close to my heart.

Christmas always meant time with family. We would see ALL of our relatives at Christmas, even the ones we didn’t see often or who lived far away. The house would be packed, especially come evening when the second meal was served, and even more family arrived from their previous destinations. There was one year when we had more people stuffed into the house than I thought possible. Family members brought their extended family. Relatives who normally weren’t in the area for Christmas were. It was an unforgettable Christmas. It makes me a bit sad when I think about it now. So many of those that graced us with their presence on Christmas are gone now. Gone but not forgotten.

I love gift-giving. I enjoy trying to find something I just know they will love and once I have found that thing, I always have a hard time keeping from giving it to them the moment I get it. Then there is my mother’s favorite gift. A photo calendar that includes pictures of all her grandkids. It’s not the easiest gift to put together but it makes her happy, so this year I will try to remember that while I’m sorting and arranging what seems like millions of pictures. Then there are those that it’s impossible to buy for. I have no words for them. They should be on the naughty list.

Several years ago, I started making homemade cinnamon rolls to give out to some of my neighbors and the family that we see on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Two years ago, I was swamped with work and life, and I didn’t have it in me to make the cinnamon rolls. I didn’t expect anyone to even notice. They noticed. I’ll never again not make the cinnamon rolls.

With my kids, we have new traditions. We all go together, dog included, to cut down a Christmas tree. I grew up with an artificial tree and was always envious of those with a real tree. There is usually an argument over which tree is better but we always manage to find our tree, in the end.

We have Skippy, our Elf on the Shelf. Some years I’ve hated that damn elf. This year, I decided that I love him because he brings my daughter joy, every day for 25+ days.

The kids get their chocolate advent calendars (yes, the same ones that have been around for decades) from my grandmother. They don’t always remember to brush their teeth, but somehow never forget to open the door of their advent calendar every day during the Christmas month.

I’m implementing a new tradition this year…Christmas card stuffing. Woohoo! I’m sure some of you other moms will agree, we get the brunt of “holidaying.” All of the holiday responsibilities…the good, the bad, and the ugly. This year I’m taking a stand. We’re all in this together. This year we will have a stuffer, a licker, and two labelers. Hmmm. I may need to work some of this magic on gift wrapping too.

I’m sure there’s so much more I’m forgetting but those are my Christmas moments, past and present. Thank you for allowing me the walk down memory lane. I haven’t thought about some of these traditions for a really, long time. It’s nice to reminisce.

This holiday season, take the time to forge the memories. Do the corny traditions. Shift the focus from the to-do list to family, love, and the lights. Don't forget the lights.

Whatever this season brings to you, I hope that you enjoy it. My best wishes to you and your family for a peaceful, happy, and enchanting holiday season.

Until next time...


28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page