This Christmas, I am more interested in experiences than material items.
I am looking forward to driving around the neighborhood with holiday songs cranked on the radio while I admire the twinkling lights dancing across roofs and the blowup lawn decorations wobbling from the breeze.
I am looking forward to the scent of gingerbread wafting from the oven, the taste of hot chocolate coating my tongue, and the feel of oversized sweaters dangling past my wrists.
I am looking forward to my friends flying back to our hometown from their new homes across the country so we can drink cheap beers and retell ancient stories until it feels familiar, like we never spent any time apart at all.
I am looking forward to snapping pictures of the snowfall from my windowsill, watching my dog shake the flakes from his snout, and risking the cold to mold a snowball to launch across the air like a child.
I am looking forward to setting up a tree, stringing it with lights, and weighing down the branches with homemade ornaments from my childhood and store-bought ornaments gifted by family and friends.
I am looking forward to snuggling under a shared blanket with my forever person while watching Christmas movies I have already seen one million times and can repeat by heart.
I am looking forward to wrapping presents for the people I love more than anything and guessing what their reaction will be when they tear the tape and realize how much thought I placed into their gifts.
I am looking forward to decorating gingerbread houses, even though the walls will crumble and the icing will have trouble sticking the structure together. And I am looking forward to decorating my own house to make it feel like even more of a home.
I am looking forward to taking my person ice skating so we can hold hands while we glide across the arena — and then scoop each other up again after the inevitable crashes.
I am looking forward to checking the mailbox each day for letters — and to sending my own with a personalized note at the bottom to show how much I care.
I am looking forward to seeing my loved ones and sharing a meal together amongst mistletoe and poinsettias because we do not spend as much time together as we should. We lead busy lives. We have countless responsibilities. We take our love for granted because we assume we will see each other again soon — but soon never comes quickly enough.
This Christmas, I am not going to get lost in the hassle. I am not going to get stressed by price tags and how quickly the calendar is shifting toward the twenty-fifth. I am going to slow down and appreciate the moment. I am going to make the most of December. I am going to cherish this Christmas because it is the one time when my family and friends are able to gather in the same place — and that’s what makes it the happiest time of the year.