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Column: Christmas feeling changes as years go by


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Despite all the recent snow and cold temperatures, I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Christmas is just a week away. Seems like only yesterday it was Halloween.

Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year, but when I think about it, I guess it really hasn’t.

I’ve had most of my Christmas shopping done for several weeks, and we put our tree up right after Thanksgiving.

But while I’m ready for Christmas from a practical perspective, what I’m still lacking is the proper attitude. I’m a bit low on Christmas spirit.

That’s a common state for me in odd numbered years. Those are the years my older daughter’s family stays in Pittsburgh for Christmas.

No matter how many carols I sing or how much eggnog I drink, Christmas without them just isn’t the same.

However, grandson Justin, who lives in Indianapolis, will be 14 months old on Christmas Eve. I’m looking forward to sharing in the joy and excitement of his first Christmas, at least the first one he’ll be old enough to enjoy.

Still, I’ve accepted the fact that at my age, Christmas is never going to be as much fun as it once was.

When I was a boy, Christmas was magical. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of Christmas and our family traditions. We had a lot of fun decorating the Christmas tree … and basically the entire house, including the bathrooms.

We always spent Christmas Eve at my paternal grandparents’ house, Christmas morning at our house and Christmas afternoon at my maternal grandparents’ house. Fairly easy to accomplish when you live across the street from one set of grandparents and a mile from the other set, something that’s increasingly rare in today’s world.

When I had my own kids, Christmas was even better. I loved watching their faces when they ran into the living room and saw what Santa had left for them overnight.

And some of the traditions of my childhood continued with my own family.

For example, I still follow my dad’s tradition of baking cinnamon and orange rolls on Christmas morning. I also follow his tradition of eating way too many of them.

Nothing stays the same, however, not even traditions. Now my children have families — and traditions — of their own.

If I’m lucky (in even numbered years) I get to enjoy the looks on my grandchildren’s faces when they see what Santa left for them overnight.

But Christmas has changed forever. Some Christmas mornings there are no children at our house, just “Mama in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap.” And that’s OK, too.

We have the chance to quietly reflect on the reason for the season and how blessed we are. We exchange gifts (that we picked out and bought for ourselves), listen to Christmas music and watch “A Christmas Story” over and over again on TV.

On these quiet Christmas mornings I really miss my mom and dad, my sister and my grandparents. I think about how much I love my daughters and how proud they make me. And I think about how much I sometimes miss the little girls they once were.

But time marches on, and kids become parents and, in the wink of an eye, grandparents.

I know we will miss having a house full of kids and grandkids this Christmas. But on the bright side, fewer folks in the house means more cinnamon and orange rolls for me.

But I’d rather have the

full house.

This Christmas I hope your house is full of joy and peace, no matter how many or how few people are around your tree.

Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or

dshowalter@therepublic.com.

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