Publisher - December 2022

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”

—Norman Vincent Peale—

I have to believe that almost everyone has a few good holiday memories. There are a lot of jokes and memes out there about how miserable being with family can be and how stressful the holidays are. While some are excited for the holidays, others take on the persona of the Grinch— before his “small heart grows three sizes.” Bah-humbug is the mantra for many, and let’s not forget the original king of mean—Scrooge. There are people who proudly admit they are Scrooge.

Me? I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, more like Elf, but maybe not quite so enthusiastic. However, I'm all in favor of everyone spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear—and I can’t even sing!

I love the holidays, even though I spent many of them not doing what I wanted to do—read as “under family control.” Even so, I have numerous holiday memories—some bad, mostly good—and I like to remember the good ones.

When I was a newlywed, (before children) we lived in the small town of Darlington, SC. We had friends who had two little girls. On Christmas Eve we went over to their house for dinner…and wine. Once they finally got their girls to sleep—that took a while—we decided to stick around to have more wine and help put “Santa Claus” out.

One of the “big” gifts was a dollhouse, which required not only assembly, but also decorating. There were stickers to neatly place in each room, like rugs for the floors, draperies for the windows, pictures for the walls, etc. Well, my friend—the mom—had enough wine that her knack for decorating became a little wonky. The dollhouse was cute as it could be, though it looked like an earthquake had hit with most of the stickers fairly crooked. Thank goodness their girls were around 4 and 2 years old. They never noticed, but I will never forget the laughter that ensued that night on the floor around their Christmas tree while decorating that toy.

Another memory I treasure is when my own children were little. Conner, my oldest, would wake up around 5:00 in the morning and run to his little sister’s room to wake her up. We would groggily get up, shut the hall door, tell them not to open it and go turn on the tree. I would return reporting Santa had been to our house. They would jump on the bed, squealing, begging to go down the hall. When I finally said yes, they would run as fast as they could. There is nothing like the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. This is the magic of Christmas, when nearly the whole world stops to come together and celebrate. There are few other things that even come close to seeing or being a child on Christmas morning.

You wouldn’t think the year I was going through divorce and was displaced from my damaged home due to Hurricane Matthew would bring great memories. Even through a lot of tears, it was one of the best Christmases ever. The children (college aged by then) and I rode around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve day giving out Bloody Mary’s. We had the best time visiting everyone and spreading Christmas cheer (we did not sing)! This is how my father was at Christmas; we went to everyone’s house, taking fresh oranges and grapefruits, pecans and Claxton fruitcakes. We never called to let them know we were coming, we just showed up. And everyone seemed glad we were there—perhaps this is the meaning of glad tidings.

I’ll never forget that same year when Conner’s buddy, Blake, showed up on Christmas morning in his bathrobe. He had driven from River Club to Hilton Head Plantation in his boxers and bathrobe. It was hilarious, and he turned what could have been a very sad day for us into fun. It’s the “characters” in your world who make moments memorable—kind of like Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (and my dad).

The negativity of post-hurricane destruction brought so many positive surprises. I had never felt so alone. Both children were away at college; it was just me and the dogs. All of my Christmas decorations had been destroyed, and low and behold, miracles appeared. A friend called me to let me know she had a surplus of Christmas decor in her attic she “wanted to get rid of.” I didn’t know her very well, but in the shape I was in—mentally and financially—I accepted her offer. I went over and literally “shopped” in her attic. I was so thankful, I cried as I pulled out of her driveway. I know for sure this was the spirit of Christmas.

It didn’t stop there. My friend, who lives in Florence, SC, and her daughter showed up the next weekend to help me decorate. She took me to get a tree, we went shopping for ornaments, she helped me with decisions on choosing new Christmas decor. She even sawed the trunk of the tree smaller so we could get it in the stand. When she left my rental home, it was beautiful. I loved the decorations, but what had me in pure awe was my friend’s love for me. The thought she would spend a holiday weekend, leaving her home, husband and younger daughter, to come make sure I was ready for Christmas was humbling. I have no doubt this is the love of Christmas.

Magic, spirit and love are what the holiday season is all about. I pray that you feel all three of these blessings this month. If you don’t, sit down and take a mental walk down Memory Lane. There you will find many delightful smiles and laughs, perfectly nestled along side the magic, spirit and love within us not only during this season, but also all year long.

From my heart to yours, I hope your holidays are saturated in the magic, spirit and
love of Christmas.

Think Pink,
Elizabeth Millen