“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel.”  

This year I seem to forget whether it was me or Charlie Brown who said that as I struggle to feel the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas feelings seemed to have come easier when I was a kid. There was excitement with church plays and school programs and Christmas parties and parades. That all led up to the big shebang when Christmas eve would find me tucked snuggly in my bed trying to stay awake just long enough to hear the reindeer land on the rooftop. 

I’d wake before anyone else on Christmas morning to find that good old Santa Claus had come through once again and left me with a smorgasbord of brand new play things under the tree and a stocking full of candy. The family would wake up and Mama would cook while my siblings and I waited impatiently to open the gifts that remained shining and mysterious under the tree. Then we’d all rush to get ready for a trip to spend Christmas with family either on Sand Mountain or in Hixson . 

It’s not quite as fun as an adult sometimes, I find.

The season often seems like it ought to come along with a wide load ahead sign. There’s the cooking the cleaning the shopping and all the holiday traditions in between. I am no longer the one those traditions are meant for, but the one who must set them all in motion and do the work along the way. 

I was watching the first episode of “Little House on the Prairie” earlier, because I like the Christmas scene. They weren’t supposed to have much of a Christmas that year, and Caroline said to Charles, “It’s Christ’s birthday. Not ours.”  I like that. The commercialism of this season sometimes overwhelms me. I don’t think it’s how it’s supposed to be, but it feels like there’s no getting away from it. But I have to admit I love the excitement of Christmas morning when my kids wake up to the fruits of that commercialism.

Mr. Edwards showed up and saved the day with sweet potatoes and peppermint sticks in that Little House episode.  That sounds like just about the sweetest Christmas I’ve ever heard of, but I’m afraid such a Christmas would disappoint most of us these days.

Another thing about Christmas that seems to have changed is the temperature. It’s snowing in all the Christmas movies, and in most of the Christmas carols. It feels downright cruel that the skies will be sunny and the high 65 on 

Dec. 25. But then of course, I’d have a warm place to go if things were cold so maybe I’m just being selfish.

As I question myself about why I can’t seem to feel all the Christmas joy that I want to it occurs to me this — we try to stretch Christmas too far nowadays. Maybe the feeling of Christmas doesn’t want show up so early as society now urges. Just look at the stores when they breakout the Christmas decor before the fireworks have cooled off on the Fourth of July. It’s no wonder that some of us struggle with Christmas cheer when we feel behind the ballgame if the tree isn’t up by the first of November, and we don’t start our Black Friday shopping a week before Halloween. 

Nevertheless, as the day draws nearer I find Christmas settling in my bones a little because of my children.

The boy asks daily, “How many days until Christmas? I can’t wait.” Little sister was a sight to behold at the Christmas parade as she wandered into the streets picking up her own candy. She did this for quite some time, until she sat down on the curb and unwrapped a lollipop or two. 

As I search for the meaning of Christmas and urgently try to feel it’s spirit, I know I must remind myself that not everyone has the luxury of such a silly state of mind. My life is good.

May the warmth and happiness that is supposed to be this season find us all on Christmas Day. 

As Robert Earl Keen put it, Merry Christmas from the family.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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