I am that girl who listens to Christmas music in September, has her tree up no later than black friday, and believes full heartedly that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Last night I went running around 9 pm in Downtown Portland. It was the first day of the year where you walked outside and the crispness of the air made you shiver from head to toe. While Portland city proper does not specialize in snow, it does have a dense fog that engulfs the city giving it an eerie, yet magical feeling. It was truly the first winter day I have had here. As I ran around town all of my favorite Christmas memories and moments started to come to me. Perhaps it was the nostalgia of the evening, or all the holiday cheer I found in home windows, or the lights that I passed, but I couldn't help but share these stories that had me both laughing and crying on my run.
When I was in kindergarten I remember it was about this time of the year, when I was given the greatest honor of all time- I was chosen to be student of the week which basically means you bring something in for show-and-tell to share with the class. I had decided that I would bring in my most beloved book of the holiday season " The Sweet Smells of Christmas." I didn't just love this book because it revolved around that jolly man in red and white, I really loved it because it was a scratch and sniff book which back in 1989 was stinkin' amazing. Thus, I was so proud the day I was student of the week. I remember I told the story from memory and then passed around the book so everyone could enjoy. I will never forget how my body first began to trembled and then big tears began streaming down my face as I realized that everyone in my class loved my book too, because ever page had holes in it from where children had zealously over scratched and sniffed my book. Needless to say show-n-tell was never quite as exciting for me.
I feel that if you know me at all, you would know I have huge faith in people, and thus I had huge faith in Santa Claus. My mother and I had this holiday tradition growing up where we would decorate our house and make cookies for Santa all weekend long. There are multiple home videos of me prancing around our house singing songs about Santa and how I deserved the biggest barbie dream house of them all. The truth is I will never forget that frightful day on the bus as I explained to one of my neighbor boys how excited I was for Santa to come. I will never forget as he looked at me with malice in his eyes and said, " Jennifer, Santa doesn't exist, It is your mom." I being the very dramatic child that I was said with my hands upon my hips, "Jason Campbell, Santa can hear you and you are getting nothing for Christmas." I remember getting off the school bus, slinging my book bag down, and asking my mom point blank " Is santa real?" I could see the concern in her face and she said something I cannot remember, but all I did take from this conversation was that Jason Campbell had stolen Christmas and how my 8 year old life would never be the same.
Yet, Christmas has really evolved over the years for me. As a family, we don't really do gifts anymore, but it is much more about good company and of course good food. My mom makes the most amazing cinnamon rolls known to mankind. Each Christmas she would make several batches for us to take to our friends. Thus, my dad and I would fill the back of the car with the Christmas rolls and deliver them one by one to each home on Christmas Eve. It was so special getting a glimpse of each family's Christmas Eve tradition. It was one the moments I waited for all year. When we returned my family would generally go to the Christmas Eve service where we would sing songs and carols. I would wait eagerly for one of my favorite Christmas songs "Silent night" as I stood between my parents holding my candle. I would just close my eyes and listen to heavenly peace. My father would belt out the words in the deepest voice you have ever heard, it was as if the earth was shattering. It is one of the most beautiful memories of Christmas that I have and I will never forget as long as I live.
This is what I love about the holidays, it is so grounded in tradition, and yet there is still so much hope for new opportunities. While my holidays will never be the same, it is about carrying on the traditions that mean so much to me. While I won't be home for Christmas this year, I am eager to share my love and family traditions with my new family here in Portland. I laughed aloud today when one of my friends said, " Your are the daughter of Christmas, and you have never been to the Nutcracker?" So perhaps the best things about the holiday are bringing in the traditions of old with the possibilities of the new. Trust me, the opportunities are endless. May the season bring you nothing but holiday cheer, and memories to last all year long.