79. Make Every Day a Holiday

79. Make Every Day a Holiday

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Make Every Day a Holiday

Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving; make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!

~Amanda Bradley

When Uncle Sam moved our family to Poulsbo, Washington, I was thrilled to call the Pacific Northwest my temporary home for another duty station. The ferryboat rides to Seattle offered breathtaking views of Puget Sound; the stately evergreens of ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, mountain hemlocks, and madrones towered on hillsides; and snow-capped Mount Rainier peeked its head out of the mist and clouds in a splendid display of beauty.

Yet, as the summer gave way to autumn, a slight depression settled around me. My husband, an outdoor enthusiast who had trouble adjusting to the constant rainfall and dreariness in our new home, blamed it on a solar deficiency. I, however, knew that it was the thought of spending our very first Christmas away from our large extended family.

Although we’d been married fifteen years, had four children, moved seven times, lived in six states, and survived separation during the Gulf War, David and I had consistently spent time over the Christmas holidays in our small and quaint hometown of Statesboro, Georgia. But not this year.

I decorated early to help dispel the gloom and add some cheeri-ness to our home. Even though I’ve always loved the festivities that Christmas brings, as well as other holidays and celebrations, I was surprised at how this act lifted my spirits.

I dreaded un-decorating, as I called it, when the season ended. Mostly because I feared it would bring back the sadness and longing for home that had been prevalent before the holidays.

I packed up the Santas and reindeer and gingerbread men, but decided to leave out the snowmen, and I turned the small, artificial tree we used in the den into a “winter” tree. I wrapped the plastic container that held the tree in a piece of fake snow, placed a stuffed snowman on top, and dangled snowy décor from the branches.

I hung a snowman wreath on the front door and left snowmen hand towels in the bathroom. For the next couple of weeks, my home-schooled offspring made snowy crafts and we added them to the dining room table and to my tree.

In January, we changed the theme to “all things penguins” to continue our winter celebration. Again, we made crafts, turned tootsie rolls into edible penguins, and found penguin plates on sale at a department store to decorate our table. Stuffed penguins from the toy box and crafty ones from our creative minds adorned my tree.

In February, I wrapped a red blanket around the bottom of the tree and filled the tree with red and pink hearts. We celebrated Valentine’s Day for an entire month, with goodies, crafts, games, old movies, and lots and lots of love-notes.

March lent itself to St. Patrick’s Day; April to Easter; May to a gardening theme; June to a beach theme; July, obviously, patriotic; August, back-to-school celebrations; September to all things apple; October to pumpkins and candy; and November to thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Our family had come full circle: we had feasted, and loved, and celebrated throughout an entire year.

During each season, I looked for bargain decorations to add to my collection. And I especially looked for clearance items after each season to place in my decoration box for the following year. St. Patrick’s Day beads and Fourth of July flags at 75% off the original price make wonderful tree decorations a year later!

My family, at first, thought the idea of a “Christmas” tree staying out all year long was silly, but it didn’t take long before it became as much of a treasure to them as it was to me. My holiday tree reminded us to celebrate each day as a precious gift. It brought a cheeriness to each day that I’ve not found in any other way.

That celebration began twelve years ago, and now, two houses later and back home in our little southeast corner of Georgia, my tree greets extended family and friends when they enter the foyer and reminds my own family to celebrate abundantly and to make each day a holiday.

~Julie Lavender

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