That title is the name of my favorite holiday song of all time sung by Andy Williams. I thought it was a good time to talk about the holiday season; for me that is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The order of these holidays is also my order of most favorite to least favorite.
Let’s start with Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday because it truly resonates “family”. No shopping or worrying about gifts; just good old quality family time. Granted this is probably the day most moms are working their tail off in the kitchen, but that is also a great memory of mine growing up I would wake up and mom already had an apron on preparing the feast for the day. The smells were already forming in the kitchen and dinner wasn’t until five. By late morning my brother, sisters and their families would begin to arrive for the first football game on television. The rest of the day would be board games, outdoor football games, playing cards, food, post- feast walks, and possibly an evening movie. Even as a parent now the days aren’t too different. In fact, it is better with additional traditions from my wife’s family added to the mix. Growing up Thanksgiving also was the designated day when mom when dust off the records and begin playing her Christmas albums. Of course Andy Williams was among the many artists playing in my house growing up. These days, radio stations start this music much earlier but for me it will always be after Thanksgiving dinner when my mom started the transition into the next holiday: Christmas.
Christmas season for me started when my mom set out the Sears catalog and I could mark the toys on my wish list. The next significant moment was the day I would arrive home from school with the tree up and decorated. Of course every night involved constant Christmas music playing in the background. As a child a fond memory is sitting in our living room looking out the window waiting to see my grandparent’s car coming down the road. This meant the big day was close. My grandparents were Italian immigrants and their arrival meant the best food, cooking, treats, and homemade Italian sausage and red wine you could ever have. Christmas Eve was always homemade ravioli or some other type of pasta followed by some serious couch time and the opening of one family gift before evening prayers at the nativity scene and bedtime. What I felt on Christmas morning I now live through the eyes of my children by awaking to a room full of gifts that were not there the night before. Christmas in my home now wouldn’t happen without my wife. She does the entire shopping, planning, wrapping, etc. She works so hard I sometimes worry she doesn’t have a chance to really enjoy the season. I’m sure my mom was the same way but I never noticed it as a child.
That leaves New Year’s. Honestly other than a phase in my 20’s, New Year’s Eve has never been a favorite of mine. In fact, I have had more bad experiences on New Year’s Eve than positive. That is probably why I prefer to spend it at home with my family. New Year’s Day is the fun day with college football all day long. My older kids actually participate in the polar bear plunge with the other crazies out there, but I never felt the urge to join in.
So how do the holidays differ now living with an ALS diagnosis? It doesn’t. In fact, I enjoy them more. I never take anything for granted anymore and life is about creating memories for my kids for them to look back on one day with the same smiles I do of my childhood. Let’s face it, life isn’t always fair. We all have ups and downs but I can’t remember ever feeling the “holiday blues” to an extent that it really affected me. Once again I give credit to my faith, family, and friends for getting me through any hardship life through my way. I hope none of you experience the blues this holiday season. Embrace it and create as many wonderful memories as you can. As Andy Williams sings, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, and I wish all of you a blessed holiday season.