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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Monday, January 5, 2015

In Search of... Christmas Spirit

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

     It’s January 5. The New Year is here and Christmas is over – again. Each year I go through the same thing – preparing for the holidays and then BOOM – they are over. Now it’s time to start putting away Christmas lights, trees and other decorations and swan dive head first into the daily grind that is considered “normal”. But that’s not going to happen without thinking back on one big question: Did I really have some Christmas spirit this year, or did I just go through the motions like the past few years?
     “Where are you, Christmas?” sung by Faith Hill, played over and over in my head this past November. The past few holiday seasons were blurs, mainly because of my personal losses. This past summer I made a promise to myself to start getting out of my solitary funk and back into life. That included a few trips alone and a decision to begin dating again. In September, I signed myself up on Match.com. For the most part, the beginning of my Match adventures had me wading in a swamp full of frogs. There were no big expectations, but I thought I could meet someone my own age to hang out with for a while. Singles, beware. There are some really weird people on Match. But you already knew that…
     But at a time when my psyche needed a mega-boost, I met a prince who was in the same predicament I was in. His past few holidays were in the crapper from loss-induced depression. So we both decided to improve each other’s holidays.

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

      The uplift began at Thanksgiving. We were both going to visit family members out of state for the holiday, but we both stayed in touch by phone the whole time. Family is what the holidays are all about. Sometimes, it’s the only time we see or hear from some family members. Those pain-in-the-butt Christmas cards and letters are a great example of staying in touch… they do become precious, especially when you look back at the year before and realize who is no longer here.
     Once we got back into town, we did a local Christmas event, called the Miracle on 34th Street. No, Virginia, it does not include Macy’s. It is one full street in the Hampden section of Baltimore that is lit – electrically – for the holiday season. Hampden becomes a tourist destination during this time of the year. And yes, it is the old neighborhood for my new friend. He gave me the tour of his old haunts after we walked around looking at the lights.
     We needed music too. So I found out about a concert by a local barbershop chorus and off we went one cold, Friday evening. The music was spectacular and the chorus got the audience involved… you couldn’t leave without your Christmas spirit. And we were able to help a charitable cause in the process.
     In between, we decorated our houses. He helped me with mine and I helped with his (sort of). He didn’t decorate for the past few years, so it was a positive step that he got his tree out of the shed and put it up!
     I spent some time in New York City with my sister and niece. This is where we did the super-commercial Christmas events. We took in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which was billed appropriately. It was a fantastic show and worthy of its own post, very soon. We walked over to 30 Rock and saw the tree, ice rink and plaza. We walked down 5th Avenue and looked in some of the store windows. We went to Times Square, saw the New Year’s Ball ready to drop, went to Macy’s on the other 34th Street, and the Stardust Diner. We got bumped in the crowds, blown around by the wind, did some shopping and walked until all the calories we ate didn’t count. And through all of that, we had a very festive attitude. Bring on Christmas!
     It was then time to come home from NYC and attend a few Christmas parties, with friends old and new. We can’t forget the church services and concerts, either. We took it all in this year.
     Which way made me merrier for the holiday season? The New York trip was great, no doubt. I saw things there that I only heard about. Now I know where to go IF I ever get tickets to see Jimmy Fallon. But the local celebrations were also fantastic. Spending time with long-time friends and family members meant a lot too. There is something about celebrating as a wider community that gives me a better sense of belonging. The big things are great, too, don’t get me wrong. But this year I think I needed the closer community of friends and family.

Christmas is here everywhere, oh
Christmas is here if you care, oh
If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time
     And I needed someone special to share in all of it with me. This was a seriously wonderful, incredibly positive, totally calming, not-ready-to-be-over, very good holiday season.

     Maybe that’s it… we just need each other. Now to keep this going throughout the year…

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here in silence
Fills each and every heart with love

Song lyrics - “Christmas, Why Can’t I Find You?” by James Horner and Will Jennings
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - 2000