Christmas officially starts in my home on Thanksgiving night, after supper and dessert have been cleared away. That's when I start playing Christmas music. This is something that I remember from as far back as when I was 13 years old, and I just love melding Thanksgiving seamlessly into Christmas this way! My husband loves to start his Christmas shopping at 0-dark-thirty on Black Friday! He's better than I am! I sleep in that day! Later on that day I'll be watching Christmas movies: White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Connecticut, Miracle on 34th Street, Christmas Vacation, and so on and on...! (OK, confession time. I probably have been watching Christmas movies for at least a week or more already! I can't help it!) Then the decorating starts! Usually I start on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and continue to tweak this-and-that right up until Christmas Eve night...but really, 99% of it is done about a week after Thanksgiving. I always wear a Santa hat or an Elf hat when I'm decorating my Christmas tree and the main level of my home...it just seems like the right thing for me to do! Sometimes my neighbors get a little testy with me because I get my outside decorations up right after Thanksgiving. As it turns out (believe me, not because I plan it this way!), I'm usually the first on my block to have the outside decorated. A couple of years ago, one of my neighbors actually stopped her car in front of my house, as I was putting up the decorations, to say,"Oh, you always have to be the first one on the block to have your house decorated, don't you? My husband said he bet you'd be the first again!" WHAT?!?!?!?!? Well, I still do what I want when I want, not caring a single bit if I am first, last, or in between! I always have my Annual Christmas Party for friends and family. I love doing that! I manage to get upwards of 50 people in my home! I do a lot with my Elks Club (at this time I'm the Exalted Ruler of my lodge)...kids party, Senior Citizen dinner, members party, I decorate my lodge inside and out...I just love it! Christmas Eve we go to church for the family Candlelight service. Before we all go to bed, one present each is opened (a tradition my husband Keith brought to our lives) while we listen to Christmas music with all of the Christmas decorations and tree lit up! Christmas morning, Keith gets up first at about 6 or 7 o'clock, turns on all of the Christmas lights, music, and puts on a pot of coffee. Then he wakes us all up to tell us that Santa Claus has arrived! Two of my sons, Keith and Andrew, are already here, and sometimes Keith's children Bel and Connor. Presents get opened, oohhs and aahhs, clean up the papers, eat a Christmas breakfast of Chocolate Cherry Bread, Banana Bread, and Cranberry Bread with coffee and hot chocolate. Then we have to get showered, dressed, and clean up the rest of the wrapping paper because Grandma (Keith's mother) is on her way over for dinner, and so is my son Ryan with his family! Dinner starts to get prepared. Appetizers are usually something like shrimp, antipasti, and maybe stuffed mushrooms. Dinner is always a pork crown roast, stuffing,fried saurkraut, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and tons of vegetables. I love to serve apple cider with dinner. Dessert is crazy time! Since I usually make about 12 (give or take)different kinds of cookies, there are 12 or so different kinds of cookies out, fudge, candies, mini cannolis, cream puffs, and eclairs, apple pie, cocoanut custard pie, cheesecake...those are most of the usual suspects. Sometimes different things will appear, depending on what I feel like making. Coffee, of course! Then it seems like everyone is putting on their coats and leaving before dessert is cleared away...it's been a long busy day! My husband helps his mother get home, only about a 10 minute drive, and I finish cleaning up the remains of the feast. Time for me to sit down, put my feet up, and relax!