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What the Holidays Mean to Me: From the Perspective of Someone Who Celebrates Two!

The holidays are literally my favorite. Honestly? It starts around Halloween. I love the whole decorating process, I love to see people smile and happy. I love to see the cheer on kids' faces! I love the food... oh... yeah...the food. I DON'T love the extra 5 pounds that comes along with it by the END of the holiday season, BUT I think it's totally worth it given all the GOOD things, right?

I'm one of those people who will literally start decorating for Christmas on November 1st. My husband has to reel me back in sometimes. If it was totally up to me I would have everything up and ready to turn on the day after Halloween. Yup! And I just *may* have done that when I was single. I know there's the whole camp of people out there who say "don't rush the holidays!" and I DO agree with you... I just like them to get here as soon as possible and last as long as possible.

As I've written in the past, I didn't have a family life when I was a kid. Virtually none. My grandmother raised me, and it was just the two of us, alone in a big house. Even at 6 years old I would decorate for Chanukah and Christmas. It's what I did, and I looked forward to it every year. For me back then it was watching Christmas movies and baking and going to the mall to shop every weekend...ya know when malls were actually a big deal.

One thing that comes to mind when I think about my childhood and Christmas is a story I tell often during gatherings. My grandmother was never one for surprises. I ALWAYS knew what I was getting for Christmas. In fact, I'd just pick it out. So I think that's why to this day I, myself, am not keen on surprises. One year... I think it may have been 2000... we went to Boscov's and I REALLY wanted the brand new Acela train set. It had just come out and was all the rage. At this time, Boscov's actually sold trains. That tells you how long ago it was. We found it - the last one! Brought it home and wrapped it and placed it at the top of our china cabinet in the dining room. Early the next morning I snuck downstairs as quietly as possible, got a chair, climbed up and took the train set down. I opened it, set it up and then packaged it again! Yes... I was a naughty little kid.

Since it was just the two of us, we never had any large gatherings, so I never knew what any of that was. I never had that big loving family feel which is odd because I literally come from a Jewish and Italian background...both BIG with family gatherings and the such. The closest I came to that was when I worked at ShopRite. My employees and co-workers became my family. Actually, one of my co-managers who also didn't have a big family would get a bunch of ShopRite people together for the holiday's and we'd have dinner, hang out, exchange gifts and celebrate together. We had some very memorable times that I will never forget. Those times made me feel loved.

When I met my now-husband way back in 2014, I was invited to his house for Christmas Eve. His family does a huge get together each year, and I was nervous as I had no idea what to expect...and frankly? Even though I'm this loud-mouth boisterous guy on TV, I'm actually quite timid in social settings - especially around people that I don't know. Awkward! I settled right in though. I loved every minute of it, and it has been tradition for us to do that ever since - even though this year will be different, as we ALL adjust our yearly traditions.

Nowadays it's my husband and me, our dogs Skye and Zeus, and our many friends that we get together with for several smaller celebrations. I know a lot more people than I did way back when, & have a HUGE extended family here on the web. My favorite thing to do today is actually doing our best to pay it forward. Whether it's supplying families with meals or having a toy drive to help kids in need, I think it's important to give back to the community any way possible.

No matter what holiday you celebrate...Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or Festivus, I hope you are able to put aside differences with your loved ones and come together (even if you are apart and have to do everything virtually). Life is short. There's no time to be upset or angry with people. Make the best of it!

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