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December is by far my favorite month of the entire year. The only thing that could possibly make it better is if the weather were warm enough to sit on the beach and swim in the ocean.
During the month of December, I have one excuse after another to indulge in everything from shopping and sugar cookies to decadent birthday cake and Christmas music. The entire month always passes in a whirlwind of activity.
My father’s Dec. 17 birthday kicks off the holiday season, even though as the years have passed, it has become increasingly more difficult to celebrate with him due to work obligations. But I am always there in spirit.
And this year was no exception. I tried to call him at least 10 times on the 17th to no avail. When I finally reached him, it was almost as if I was in the room laughing with him and sharing his day.
For his birthday this year, I slipped a MegaMillions lottery ticket in his card. The jackpot was more than $20 million, and the drawing was on the 17th. I just knew that if I made him a millionaire for his birthday, I would win the award for best child ever!
We joked about how we would spend the money. From paying off houses and cars to a family vacation and building a church. I only required one of the $20 million we would win. I was going to retire, live off the interest and write books with my feet in the sand.
We talked until the numbers came in and, a little disappointed, we laughed again about our silly plans and wishful savings account. We hung up the phone, him a year older and me wishing our luck were a little better, but knowing the holiday fun had just begun.
Mom called me the next day and told me we were starting a new holiday ritual. My father and I would have a joint birthday party on Christmas Eve complete with a homemade Boston Cream cake, both of our favorites. (I think I will bring him another lottery ticket.)
Traditionally on Dec. 23, the family gathers in the kitchen as my dad makes his famous coffeecakes, a recipe handed down from his mother. I keep meaning to actually pay attention to the ingredients one year so I can carry on the tradition in the future. All I know is the recipe includes a little of this, a little of that and an extra dash of love.
The family usually begins to arrive at my parents’ house on the 23rd. By Christmas Eve we are all assembled and the begging begins. Mom and I and in recent years my sisters-in-law gang up against my dad and brothers. We want to exchange presents on Christmas Eve. The boys want to wait until morning; it’s tradition they say.
I always claim the dogs are on my side; therefore, we should win. Truth be told, I don’t really care, I just like to harass everyone with the annual controversy and I can’t wait to give my presents to my family.
This year is going to be a little different as the brothers and I decided not to exchange gifts. We all know it’s been a tough year for everyone, and we decided as long as we could all get together for the holiday it would be the best gift of all. It has been hard not to shop for the perfect gifts as that is one of my favorite parts of the season.
Christmas Day is a day filled with coffeecake, too much food, laughter and an afternoon nap. The day after Christmas is typically a travel day for me. It is also one of my best friend’s birthdays, so I typically make an appearance at her party where I again eat cake and indulge.
Then there is Dec. 27, which is a day of rest, but by midnight I am preparing for another celebration: My birthday.
Having my birthday so close to Christmas usually raises a lot of apologies from others, but I must confess it has been kind of perfect. I typically don’t have to work on my birthday, I never had to go to school, the family is usually gathered somewhere already and I can usually score some major shopping deals with the after-Christmas sales. And I get to eat cake again!
And then just three days later, it’s New Year’s Eve.
I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season this year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.