As my family and I prepare to decorate our home each Christmas season, we have many family mementos that are reserved just for this time of year. This ceramic Christmas tree, made by my Gramma is one such treasure. She was the party planner of our family, and her Christmas parties were legendary. At her parties, the kitchen table and counter were both filled with traditional holiday munchies to enjoy. And, of course, gallons of her famous citrus-laced boiled custard to wash it all down. My bluegrass pickin' Uncle Sam brought his guitar, and we sang all of our family favorite songs. Yes, some better than others, but everyone was encouraged to participate and we laughed a lot! My Gramma planned fun games with great prizes. There were random drawings and such, and even though we prodded her, trying to find out what the prizes would be each year, she never gave in. Ever. In true Gramma fashion, no one went home a loser. We all won a prize of some sort by the end of the night.
She is no longer with us, she's in heaven now. Our family parties are still wonderful, but, have changed without her presence. Each year, when I carefully place this Christmas tree in it's spot and plug it in and see the bright colored lights shining, it seems she's here with us. Still.
Amid all of the rushing and planning, I would encourage you to take time to stop and enjoy the special "real" moments this Christmas season. If you haven't, start your own family traditions, make memories, love and appreciate the ones around you. Most importantly, reflect on the real reason we celebrate this season of hope, joy and love. These are the only things that are guaranteed to last beyond Christmas.