by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

I admit it. I’m one of those people who is happy when radio stations start playing Christmas music. I don’t care if it’s before Thanksgiving. And I don’t care if stores start stocking their aisles with holiday décor before Halloween.

I had my Christmas cards made weeks ago. So if you’re on my list, mine may be among the first you receive. My closet is already half filled with gift boxes waiting to be wrapped. And yes, I have already started playing my Christmas CDs — much to my husband’s dismay I suppose. In fact, I’m listening to one right now!

The reason is plain and simple. I’m ready for Christmas! This has been a rough year on many fronts. And I’m ready for how the Christmas season makes me feel.

My life at Christmastime has not always been the picture of a Currier and Ives card. I’ve had family members pass on in December as well as family members be away from home on military deployments. I’ve not always been home for Christmas, and I’ve sometimes had little money to spend on gifts. I’ve been without a special someone in my life, and I’ve spent holidays in the hospital.

Still, Christmas has always been a season that can totally consume my mind, body and spirit with hope and peace. Gazing at the lights on my Christmas tree calms my weariness like nothing else can. I feel like I’m basking in God’s light. The twinkling lights never fail to remind me of His gentle ever-presence giving me encouragement and comfort. And I know He is lighting my path on this journey of life. And that’s reassuring!

So bring it on Christmas! I’m ready for you!

I’m ready to laugh with Rudolph, Frosty, Garfield and Charlie Brown. I’m ready to dream of a white Christmas, although that rarely happens in my neck of the woods. And I’m ready for my biggest decision of the day to be what kind of cookie I will bake.

I like to get my Christmas cards out early because I can’t wait to hear back from friends and family. I know I should stay in better touch all year long, but where does the time go? Days and months pass, and I still haven’t written or called. I hate that about myself. But I promise my Christmas card will be one of the first you receive sincerely wishing you a blessed holiday season.

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love,” Karen Carpenter is singing. For me, one Christmas was spent dreaming about falling in love. It was my final Christmas without a boyfriend. But I wasn’t feeling sad. All those holiday romance songs and movies were a promise of what could happen to me someday, and I loved dreaming about the man I would marry. The next Christmas I was announcing my engagement to the man I have been married to for almost thirty years. Both are endearing Christmas memories for me!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sings Andy Williams. I agree! It’s that magically special time when friends, family and strangers come together to celebrate and make memories — when lending a hand, sharing a smile, showing more tolerance and patience comes naturally. If only we could all do those Christmas things all year through!

So although it’s been said many times, many ways, my friends, a very Merry Christmas to you! May your New Year’s dreams come true! And may you feel God’s peace and love embracing you and yours at Christmas and always!