Each year I'm more wrapped up (so to speak) in commitments, obligations and responsibilities to find the time to stop and think about and enjoy it.
And it's not for want of trying. Our tree has been up in our living room for two weeks now, our lights strung up outside the house, I've written and sent most of my cards and even wrapped a few presents. And still, nothing.
It used to come easily. Almost anything would spark the feeling: listening to carolers, walking down a high street lit with Christmas lamps, watching a holiday movie, or even just wrapping presents with Baby It's Cold Outside playing in the background and a cup of cocoa by my side.
Now I have to work at the magic. And really, magic shouldn't be worked at.
Despite my attempts at surrounding myself with Christmas, I've felt not even a hint of the twinkly, round-as-a-bowl-full-of-jelly, magic stuff.
Until this afternoon.
This afternoon, I went into my son's preschool as the parent volunteer, and for the first time - which, really, is not bad considering it's only December 9th - experienced a little Christmas magic.
It might have been when I was helping my son's classmates paint Christmas bells with red and green glitter, or the way the jingling bells gave rise to a rambunctious rendition of jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way... Or it might have been the candy cane mouse tails. Or maybe it was when the kids sat in a circle and listed aloud their Christmas wishes.
(I watched closely when it came to my son. "I want a pontipine." He said. A what? His wishlist changes every day. First he wanted a car wash, then a race course, then a combine harvester. Now a pontipine. "A porcupine?" Asked the teacher, curiously. Obviously she's never had the pleasure of In The Night Garden.)
As I watched their excited little faces, eyes shining, innocent and full of marvel for this mysterious forthcoming event, I felt it. Magic. It was as though, through them, I could recall the feeling I'd been looking for.
When I was a kid, like most kids, I thought my parents shared the same excitement about Christmas as me. Now I know, though their magic had probably worn away as mine is now worn away, they were reliving some of the magic through me (and my brother), as I'm now reliving it through my kids.
How about you? How do you get into the spirit of the holidays?
Image from istockphoto.com