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Getting into the holiday spirit

Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in New York. After fears the balloons could be grounded if sustained winds exceeded 23 mph, Snoopy, Spider-Man and the rest of the iconic balloons received the all-clear from the New York Police Department to fly between Manhattan skyscrapers on Thursday.  AP Photo/John Minchillo
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in New York. After fears the balloons could be grounded if sustained winds exceeded 23 mph, Snoopy, Spider-Man and the rest of the iconic balloons received the all-clear from the New York Police Department to fly between Manhattan skyscrapers on Thursday.

Despite the early arrival of Christmas decor and holiday specials, it's hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit before I see Santa at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I've always loved watching the parade and I woke up early this year to turn on the TV to see the balloons, floats and various performances march down the streets of New York. I felt like a kid again and turned to my husband multiple times to say, "It would be so cool to march in the Thanksgiving Day parade!"

Santa's arrival was our cue to take out the tree and hang the stockings with care. After a Thanksgiving feast with family, I'm ready to (take a nap, then) start shopping for gifts and embrace movies like "Elf," "Christmas Vacation" and — my personal favorite — "The Santa Clause."

I plan to order Christmas cards this week and wrap the gifts we've already purchased. Christmas music is already on my iPhone, even if it is strange to sing along to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" when it's 60 degrees outside. Maybe later this week it'll be more appropriate…

Despite all of the bustle at the stores and the frenzy to find the perfect gift, my favorite moments are the quite moments — sitting in front of the fire with friends and family, sipping hot chocolate and chatting.

I love candlelight services and nativity scenes. Being with my church family is always special this time of year.

On Christmas day, the best moments are those when someone opens a gift and you can tell on their face it has brought them joy. I try to get a few things from wish lists and then maybe one or two items that the receiver didn't even know they wanted.

So, now that Santa has made his way down 34th Street, let the Christmas season begin!

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