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The Holiday Spirit

Lamonte - December 5, 2007

Last Saturday my wife and I made our annual trek to Snicker’s Gap Farm about 16 miles west of Leesburg, Virginia to cut a fresh Christmas tree.  This usually marks the beginning of our holiday celebration and we enjoy the smell of a fresh cut tree in our house and the fact that it doesn’t dry out as fast as the ones you buy at the Christmas tree lot. 
We also like the name of the place – Snicker’s Gap Farm.  Twelve or thirteen years ago when we first started the tradition, there was just a handful of people (18-20) at the farm when we arrived.  Things have changed over the years and now the parking lot has expanded to handle about 150 cars.  After you cut the tree you drag it down the mountain (hill) and someone will put it on a “tree shaker” that shakes all the dried needles off.  Then they run it through a binder that ties it up to make it easier to transport home.  This year we waited in the “shaker” line for about an hour because of the number of people.  It was a sunny day – cold and a bit windy up on the hillside – but it was a pleasant time talking to the other tree cutters and watching the children roll down the hill for fun and seeing a wide variety of beautiful dogs that were brought along by their owners.  I promised my wife as we stood on the hillside looking out at the beautiful Virginia countryside that I would NOT be a grouch for Christmas like I think I was last year, and I would make every effort to be happy and cheerful for Christmas and hopefully that attitude would carry over into the new year.

Now let me say that I’m usually a pretty happy fellow.  My workmates often comment on my positive attitude and certainly I have every reason to be happy.  God has blessed me with a beautiful family and a rich life experience.  But I guess I just think that we should be overwhelmingly happy during the holidays and so I have to make promises to myself and keep reminding myself for that to happen.  And that concerns me.

There are other Christmas “traditions” that we follow each year.  The reason we get our tree in the first weekend of December is that on the second Monday we have a multi-family FHE and we make care packages for the missionaries from our ward and the soldiers serving from our ward.  The night is filled with singing and merrymaking and we usually have 7 or 8 families there at our house.

Another tradition is my writing a Christmas letter in poetry form (yes, it’s another one of those boring Christmas letters).  One or two of my wife’s elderly aunts plead with me to do it every year because they say it’s the only way they can keep track of us living so far away.  So it can become a burden to do but I’m always satisfied when I get it done.

So I worry that it takes so much work for me to be jolly when I have so much to be jolly about.  What do you do to get into and remain in the Christmas spirit?


  1. Honestly, I think music does it for me more than anything.

    Christmas can be a really difficult time for a lot of people. My brother died just before Christmas. It’s been long enough now where I don’t really think of Christmas as the time my brother died, but I also have a sister that died, and it’s hard to gather the family and have it be so small.

    Comment by Susan M — December 5, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  2. I agree with Susan. Music more than anything, singing and listening as well as watching my three favorite Christmas movies: A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and the George C Scott version of A Christmas Carol. I’m also big on the original Frosty the Snowman cartoon.

    Oh and cooking/eating LOTS of fattening Christmas treats!:)

    Comment by Bret — December 5, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  3. I have a difficult time getting in the “mood” for Christmas. It’s a slow time of year for our busines yet we have to give the expected company Christmas party, and gifts / bonuses to the employees, plus extra days off that they all want at this time of year. Now that the kids are all gone out of the house it’s even harder.

    I’m not a shopper, hate shopping for gifts. When asked what I want for Christmas, there really isn’t anything I really want…at least that can be given by those asking.

    I did watch “The Nativity” on HBO (newer movie I think came out last Christmas) although not totally accurate it was a good perspective and at least helped me think about why we celebrate.

    As it gets closer I’ll get better!!

    Comment by Don — December 5, 2007 @ 3:48 pm

  4. My Aunt (tftcarrie), does everything in November. She was telling me this year that as soon as Halloween is over, Christmas prep begins. She gets all the cards ready, does all the shopping, etc. Her goal is to always be finished by December 1st. That way, she can enjoy the holidays. She can attend concerts and parties without stress. I love her idea so much, that next year I’m starting it. (It was too late for this year).

    I love Christmas! I adore it. I set up decorations right after Thanksgiving, and my music plays all month long (like Susan and Bret, the music is what does it for me the most). But the stress of the cards/letters and gifts can turn me into a grinch. This is why my aunt’s idea is so golden! (and probably not unique).

    Comment by Cheryl — December 5, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments. And thanks for reminding me that music is such an important part of Christmas. For me music is an important part of life every day and especially at Christmas.

    Don – thanks for reminding us of the challenges that business owner’s face during the holidays. Several years ago I was a business owner (until I lost all my money!) and my two partners and I had to lay off our last two employees in the first week of December – not a fun task. But I guess we didn’t feel that bad because we had been paying them while we had no salary for several months before and after Christmas. I think your efforts to remind yourself of why we celebrate Christmas is the right thing to do.

    I guess the concensus is that having the Christmas spirit in our hearts takes some effort – greater for some than others – and until we become perfect we should expect to make that effort. It’s always worth it.

    Comment by Lamonte — December 6, 2007 @ 5:30 am

  6. Music, definitely… and there are also tons of concerts to go to.

    My favorite new Christmas album this year (I’ve got an ENORMOUS collection — almost 900 songs!) is Snow Angel by Over the Rhine. Last year’s was a toss-up between Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens and Holiday Songs & Lullabies by Shawn Colvin.

    Just so’s you know.

    Comment by Silus Grok — December 6, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  7. I agree that listening to and singing good Christmas music puts me in the Christmas spirit more than anything else.

    My wife and I also love going to Snicker’s Gap to get our tree. Have you tried the pies at Hill High Orchard nearby in Round Hill?

    Merry Christmas!

    Comment by zehill — December 7, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  8. Well, I have to go with Carols and Cookies. At the school where I work, I don’t know who’s doing it, but someone has been making gingerbread cookies in the home ec room, and I work all day in this cloud of cinnamon and clove scents.

    And the music. Yesterday I was listening to the Roches “For Unto Us A Child Is Born.” I listened to it 3 times, and I cried 3 times. It really made me feel in the holiday spirit!

    Comment by meems — December 8, 2007 @ 6:07 am

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