While being snowed in for a couple of days, I’ve been decorating the house. This is no small deal as I have a vast collection of Santas and other Christmas objects. It takes me about three days to get it all out and that’s if I don’t get distracted. Part of the time is spent cleaning and clearing away everyday items to make room. It takes three steps: get everything out, make a huge mess, bring it all together.

This year, the emotions of it struck me harder than usual. Each piece I bring out has a story or brings a memory with it. There are ornaments and Santas from vacations that bring a flash of fun. There are Santas given to me by dear friends, long gone. There are ornaments from projects I worked on through the years. There’s the Santa my son gave me when he was 13, a hand made one he bought from an artist. There’s the Waterford Santa my husband bought me the year our first three grandsons were born, a Santa with a child on his lap. Little did we know that would be our last Christmas together. There are Santas and reindeer and bells brought to me by my precious little daughters. There’s a lovely snowman snow globe my daughter-in-law to be brought me when she and my son first started dating. There are some from my childhood and Santas and trees from my mother, purchased at Neiman Marcus so very many years ago.

As each of my children moved out of the house into their own, I gave them their box of ornaments. That left me with fewer, so I started using a little half tree that goes on the wall. It’s kind of my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but it works. I have the same Santa on top I’ve had since the first year we had a tree, back in 1967. We actually married on December 23, 1966, but were on our honeymoon that year. I’ve added ornaments I found a few years ago that are picture frames with images of my family and some dear friends, even my pets. I decided these are the treasures of my life.

It’s tempting not to decorate. I don’t have the big parties I used to and it’s mostly for me, but it’s still special and fun. I usually hum while I’m working, all the beautiful and fun holiday music of our lives.

The emotions run through every day during the holidays as we celebrate with friends and family. We’re hurried to get what we want for our gift list and we’re bombarded with requests for donations from so many deserving charities. The joy is tempered by the guilt as we see one more image of a family who will have nothing when we have so much. We give canned goods and adopt families and drop coins in the Salvation Army buckets, knowing we can never do enough because the needs are so great. Some of us have someone close to us who is as needy as the people on the lists, but would never let us know. The joy of the season is tempered by the sorrow of those in pain and need.

The holidays are for sharing, sharing with all the joy in your heart. We pay it back and pay it forward and we reach out of ourselves. It’s a wonderful thing, this season of hope that brings out the best in all of us. A very wonderful time of year.