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Christmas is finallly here

Megan O'Neil | Monday, December 8, 2003

Nowadays the Christmas season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving. Retailers throw open their doors to inspired shoppers at 6 a.m. Friday morning. Neighbors smother their homes in lights in an attempt to outdo one another and fir trees become the most popular car accessory around town.I promise this is not yet another column on the importance of remembering the true spirit of the season that have become all too cliché. I will say however, that I prefer a softer approach to Christmas. I like to let my turkey digest a little, if you will, before I am willing to entirely submerge myself in the spirit of things. The first step towards seasonal bliss for me is the annual Dec. 1 swapping of cool cotton sheets for warm flannel ones. Every night as I climb into bed thereafter the flannel sheets contrast nicely with the crisp cold of winter and hint at the coming holiday. Over the next week a trickle of cards fill my mailbox giving me updates on family and friends who I may not have seen for some time. They are always accompanied by a photo where everyone is perfectly color coordinated in green or red. The children look truly angelic, but I always smile wondering what bribes their parents made in order to get them to sit still long enough for the photographer to do his job. Next comes the music. I usually warm up by listening to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album, followed by *NSYNC and Amy Grant. Much to my enjoyment the Notre Dame Glee Club has continued the tradition of coming to Saint Mary’s to sing an array of playful carols. Because I’m a sap for the traditional stuff, I always make a point to go to a performance of the Messiah. The Hallelujah finale never disappoints. As singing is not one of my many talents I generally keep my voice to a low hum while in mass. Not in the month of December, however. I belt out songs such as Hark the Herald and Joy to the World as if I was on center stage of Carnegie Hall. Those in the pews in front of me might wish that I would contain my vocal enthusiasm, but ’tis the season after all. What always seals the deal for me however, is a nighttime trip to downtown Chicago with friends. We ball ourselves up in scarves, hats, and gloves and ice skate with 50 storied buildings towering over us. We peer in the lavish windows of Marshall Fields. We joke, laugh and dream. Christmas has finally arrived.