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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Hershey’s nips the Kiss

Whether you call it a blossom cookie or a kiss cookie, there’s something off this year if you use Hershey Kisses.

The company has been nipping the tips off the iconic chocolate, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Members of The Wedding Cookie Table Community on Facebook brought the issue to light.

Laura Magone of Monongahela runs the group that includes more than 10,000 people.

She told the PG that a member first posted about the nipped Kiss tips.

That member wrote that the company said the missing tips was intentional.

When Magone bought her own bags of Kisses, she, too, noticed the missing tips.

So she called Hershey’s and got the same response — the company did it on purpose.

“I told her she had to be kidding that she thought I would believe that,” Magone said.

In the Facebook group, others have shared similar frustrations of missing Kiss tips.

“Hershey, quit being jagoffs and fix the tips on our kisses,” one user wrote.

Members don’t believe Hershey’s answer.

“My first blush reaction was, ‘what Hershey? You’ve been doing this way longer than any of us have been making cookies,’” Tamsen Mongelli DiBlasio, formerly of Pittsburgh, told the PG.

And as PG writer Gretchen McKay wrote, “If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, heaven help the chocolate maker who runs afoul of a disgruntled cookie maker.”

Jeff Beckman, a spokesman for Hershey, said the company “is now looking at the issue.”

The company is reaching out to members of the Facebook group to offer gifts.

But DiBlasio said she wants an intact Hershey Kiss.

“We don’t want a defective product,” she said.

12 Sleeps to Christmas: Special ornaments

Some people theme trees with colors, patterns or styles.

While themed trees look beautiful, I prefer trees that truly represent a person or family through the ornament choices.

My family’s main tree is filled with a number of handcrafted and store bought ornaments — many of which tell the stories of our lives.

Whether it’s an ornament showcasing the Pittsburgh skyline, Myrtle Beach or “baby’s first Christmas,” they all tell a story.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite ornament. I love all of the ornaments depicting Kaufmann’s Clock and the Horne’s tree. My Kennywood Park ornaments (especially the wooden pieces of coaster track) are great, too.

But the ornaments I love most are the ones from my grandparent’s tree.

They are simple glass balls with designs.

Most are in OK shape with some obvious signs that they’re old.

I don’t put all of these special ones on the tree. Some remain in the containers so to try to protect some of them.

They sit near the top to avoid being swatted by a dog’s tail.

I wish I knew more about their origin — what store they’re from, who designed them, if they’re part of a larger collection.

I know nothing about them except that they were part of my grandparents’ tree for decades.

As a kid I remember helping my grandma hang them on her tree.

The ‘Confluence’: Where Pittsburgh and the holidays come together

photo by WESAI was graciously invited to return to 90.5 WESA’s “The Confluence” program to share my love of Pittsburgh and the holiday season with listeners.

We talked PPG Place gingerbread houses, local artisan markets, walking tours, and, of course Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights.

I joined Rossilynne Culgan, at The Incline and Katie Blackley, of WESA.

Tune in around the 24-minute mark to hear the interview.