Only 364 days to go!

I used to be sad on Dec. 26.

Radio stations that began playing Christmas music in mid-November abruptly stopped.

Holiday TV specials that ran 24/7 on some channels were replaced.

And seasonal areas of department stores looked like retail war zones.

Dec. 26 wasn’t fun.

At some point as I grew up, I realized Christmas wasn’t about a day.

For people who believe in Christianity, Christmas is a day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

For others, it’s a day when Santa leaves gifts for those on his Nice List.

For many, it’s a time to be with family and friends.

Leading up to the finish line, it’s an energetic and fun time. But once you cross that finish line, the race seems very distant.

But as I began to understand what Christmas means to me, I realized that a date on a calendar doesn’t have to be the end of Christmas.

And I’m not talking about the 12 days of Christmas or Orthodox Christmas.

Instead, I think of Christmas as a belief. Christmas spirit can live all year long, without wrapping paper and bows and twinkling lights.

Christmas spirit can live in kind gestures, in hugs, in “Jingle Bells” playing in June.

Christmas spirit can live on long after December is gone.

I think of a three songs: B.E. Taylor’s “Feel the Love of Christmas,” Brad Paisley’s “Only 364 Days To Go” and LeAnn Rimes’ “Today is Christmas.”

Take a listen to each of them.

» “Feel the Love of Christmas”

» “Only 364 Days To Go”

» “Today is Christmas”

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Only 364 days to go

Christmas night always is filled with mixed emotions as it begins the end of the holiday season. Though I’ll openly celebrate through mid-January (when the tree comes down), much of the pizazz begins to simmer now. The TV shows slowly end, the radio stations go back to their regular programming. And a neighbor likely will have his decorations down by noon Dec. 26.

Last Christmas I was introduced to Brad Paisley’s “364 Days to Go.” It’s a great song to remember to cherish every moment of the season before it ends.

Wrapping paper everywhere

Stacked up dishes, but who cares

They can wait until tomorrow now

It’s you and me, and this old couch

The Christmas tree in our living room

Fills the room with pine perfume

And colored lights dancing on the walls

While Nat King Cole sings “Deck The Halls”

Don’t you get the sense tonight

That for now the world is right

And as another Christmas ends

My mind drifts and once again

I’m thinking like a six year old

Only 364 days to go