Despite challenges, I have spirit to spare.

…Despite being stricken by a lower body bug that rendered me totally useless for nearly a week and still has me operating at around 65 percent, thereby ruining a milestone birthday (thank goodness for the memorable party the previous weekend), delaying our house closing, putting our moving on hold and pushing holiday shopping down to the wire, I am filled with Christmas holiday spirit. Never mind that this critter also managed to take the rest of the family down for shorter but more intense periods during the same time frame, compounding our predicament.

    So how could I uncharacteristically have so much enthusiasm when my body feels as though it's recovering from a few turns through the wringer of Mom's washer? Well, we have a new, albeit still a little bare, home to host festivities in, and hearing and seeing all the signs of the season everywhere you go can't help but perk up the spirit. What really topped the tree for me, though, and I suspect a number of others the world over, is the simple fact that I'm here to celebrate this glorious holiday.

    Yep, we all survived the Mayan Apocalypse, that over-exaggerated, extremely-hyped "prediction" vaguely based in truth, at least according to a certain civilization of a couple eons ago, which got people the world over living like they were dying in preparation for The End. Of course, this logical soul never once bought into any of it, taking the attitude that when the end of times truly does come, none of us will have a clue it's going to hit and even if Dec. 21, 2012 was to be that day, what could we do about?

    Although I was never apprehensive about Friday coming, there was a brief moment that day when I wondered if the doomsday prediction might actually be coming true. Once I was able to eat something, it passed.

    …One thing that always leaves me feeling uplifted and even a little magical during the holidays is the community stable service, brought back this year after an absence of a few years. There's just something about dozens of community members from different churches coming together to both act out watch the Christmas story unfold in a rugged setting that can't help but warm the heart. And the nativity scene lover in me really appreciates the sight of a complete live one near the end of the service.

    I think I can speak for all of us later arrivals who found ourselves parking on the U of M, Crookston main campus on a bitter winter's day in giving a hearty shout out to T.H.E. Bus and our very friendly and chatty driver, Carston Hovland, who shuttled us to and from the UTOC building so we didn't have to freeze our tushes had we attempted to hoof it. I considered giving the guy a tip in appreciation of the fine job he was doing, but since none of my fellow passengers did, I assumed this wasn't appropriate. So just know your service was greatly valued.

    For that matter, thanks go to George and Rae French for taking the lead on this, and to all those who put the time and effort into making it a great event. Here's to many more years of putting on such a fantastic demonstration of Christmas for the community.

    …During a recent excursion, my daughter turned the radio to a channel that exclusively played holiday tunes. As we bonded while critiquing various versions of traditional and not-so-traditional tunes, it came to light that neither of us really likes one in particular that's been part of nearly every children's Christmas program, but we've never dared admit this out loud for fear of persecution from die-hard traditionalists who would consider this sacrilegious. Ironically, a colleague and I also recently found common ground on this same issue.

    Curious as to what this little ditty is that tends to leave our Christmas spirit in limbo (although I must say the Josh Groban version gives me goose bumps, as does anything by this magnificent crooner)? I'm not at liberty to say, only that it involves a prepubescent male and a certain percussion instrument.   

    …While parking next to a pickup in another city, we noticed something different about it. Upon checking it out, the most delightful, giddy feeling overcame Aryanna and me. This truck was wired front to back with Christmas lights, a prominent candy cane on the front grill and a snowflake attached to the back.
    What a wonderful sign of the season!

    We wanted to wait for the driver to come out and fire up the holiday mobile, but it was just too nippy and we were on a bit of a time schedule. So we entered our destination without knowing the story behind the tricked out truck and why it came to be, and could only imagine this blinged-out sight cruising down road, undoubtedly distracting others as they drive by. Perhaps it's better that we don't know; we're free to dream up all sorts of possibilities and believe me, we have been.