Christmas here at Sandhill Flats is all about traditions and making them happen. Christmas isn’t something that comes down your chimney and leaves a pile of loot. Christmas is about family, giving to others, coming together to eat and enjoy fellowship with each other, and the Nativity. You could even say Christmas is best when it’s homemade.
You have to make Christmas, it’s not something that just happens. I find that having traditions makes it come more naturally. We turn Christmas music on after Thanksgiving (sometimes my earbuds might play them sooner in a clandestine manner), we always send Christmas cards via U.S. Mail with an updated family photo and a long letter, I always pass out my homemade fudge to our friends, we always have a real live Christmas tree, Christmas dinner is the only time of the year that we have prime rib, we always make gingerbread or sugar cookies (more recently in the shape of sheep), there are always cinnamon rolls and orange juice on Christmas morning, and you may NOT open any presents early!
You have to wait until you get your stocking on Christmas morning – THAT you can open by yourself in the early dawn hours. Everyone knows Santa has been in the kitchen since early, making dough. (It’s common knowledge that if anyone is Santa, that’s me.) Then, after hot, fresh, cinnamon rolls, and everyone has assembled, THEN we can all open presents, together.
I love the cold orange in the toe of my stocking. When I was a little girl, that was my favorite part – my mother always put a cold orange in the toe of my stocking. I would pour out all of the contents of the stocking, sift through, while holding the orange in my hand. The orange was always the first thing I opened. I would eat the orange first, before any candy; the cold, sweet juice slaking my thirst after a long night’s sleep. (I think she gave me an apple in the toe of my stocking one year, that didn’t go over well.) Nowadays, I can count on that nice, cold (Florida-grown) orange in the toe of my stocking on Christmas. Every orange I eat makes me think of Christmas.
My favorite thing late at night are the glowing Christmas tree lights, as I sit with a hot cup of cider, staring mindlessly into the tree. There is always a silver star at the top. Oh, I know I should get up and wrap presents and do something constructive, but it’s the only time of the year that we bring in a fragrant tree and hang dazzling, shiny lights on it! I spend a lot of time staring into my Nativity stable at the baby Jesus; it makes me reflect and be grateful for all that I have.
There’s nothing better than giving a gift to someone and having them stare at you in awe. To have given them something that they would have never gotten themselves, but that they didn’t know they really wanted, or that they really needed and didn’t know how they were going to get. It gives you a warm, little thrill, and might even elicit goosebumps – to know you gave someone a moment of emotion like that. My husband is the best at this. Someday I hope to learn how to be as good at it as he is. We should all strive to be less selfish and more thoughtful.
A sign stating “Wise Men Still Seek Him” hangs over the inside of my front door (all year). The Magi’s caravan traverses my mantle, heading ever towards the stable. I think a lot about the Magi and how curious they were, how far they came, how dedicated they were to follow the star – hoping to find their new king in its light. They had everything, but they still sought Him. If we could all be as tenacious and faithful as the Magi in everything that we do…
Finally, I feel I should mention that dirty four-letter word “snow”. I want to make it clear, we never wish for snow, nor do we miss it, nor do we like it, etc., etc. For us, snow is in no way associated with Christmas in any way. That being said,