I hate to admit that over the last decade, the Christmas season has lost some of its sparkle.
Don't get me wrong, I still love and celebrate the reason for the season, but the trappings of shopping, the hectic fury of schedules and the feelings of not doing enough for everyone on my list has left me feeling more like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge than someone celebrating the most magical time of the year.
I used to get into the spirit - decorating the Saturday after Thanksgiving, putting up a tree so trimmed it bordered on gaudy, replacing my regular dishes with Christmas ones and putting lights and mistletoe in every corner I could find. But eventually, the spirit within me died down and I found myself dreading the rush of the holiday as soon as the first jack-o-lantern was displayed for Halloween.
"I'm not in the Christmas spirit," I told Mama.
"Well, get in it," was her reply.
"How do you do that, when you are more stressed out than anything?"
"Then quit being stressed," was her answer.
Easier said than done, Mama.
And this from the Grand High Queen of Worry and Stress?
I didn't even want to put up the tree this year, but Mama reminded me Christmas is for children to enjoy and learn the real reason behind the celebration and I needed to put mine up.
The white artificial tree sat in its corner, looking as dejected as the tree Charlie Brown brought home. I half-heartedly pulled out boxes of decorations from storage and plugged in the lights.
"Oh, Merry Christmas!" Cole exclaimed when he saw it. "Mama, let's finish decorating it!"
"I will in a second," I told him. "I have a few presents I want to wrap first."
Cole didn't wait, instead he dove into the decorating, carefully hanging each ornament on the tree - all at his level so the top was bare. "We need more decorations," he told me.
"That's plenty," I said.
Cole looked at the tree. "No, we need more. And that stringy silver stuff. We need some of that." After he filled the tree with ornaments, he sprawled out on the floor, tape in hand to help with wrapping duties as he inspected the presents I had bought for his teachers.
"This is the best Christmas ever," he announced as I fastened a bow.
"How so?" I inquired.
"It just is," he smiled up at me. "We've got the tree up, it's Jesus' birthday and we've got our family," he said. "That's what Christmas is all about. Love."
Maybe Mama's right, Christmas truly is for children. Cole already knows why we celebrate; it just adds to his joy to see six feet of garland and bows to make it memorable.
And it only took about 30 minutes and a bunch of white lights to get me back in the spirit.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and certified life coach. She lives in the north Georgia mountains with her family and four insane, but fairly well behaved dogs.