Lookin' a Lot Like Christmas.

The smell of smoky spruce fills the air as a fire crackles in front of me.

On my left, my dad writes and addresses Christmas cards.

On my right, my sister works on a Christmas present for her fiancee.

Me? I’m cosied up with slippers on my feet after a cold romp through the snow, looking around at our tree finally decorated, and I’m realizing that it’s really starting to look a lot like Christmas.

I mean, it’s literally filling the air.

Between snow, fireplace smoke, and festive holiday tunes, it’s not only starting to LOOK like Christmas, but it’s starting to FEEL like Christmas.

This time of year, for me, is most important not because of the gifts, and the aesthetic holiday marketing, the hot chocolates, or the parties (though those are all really nice additives), but because of togetherness.

Watching “Nailed It” Christmas episodes with my sister, helping my dad with loading wood into the fireplace, making coffees in holiday cups for my mom in the morning, and sharing cat videos with my brother all make the holidays special.

My family is growing up so fast. My sister is engaged, my brother is about to leave for Italy for a year, my parents are pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams, and we’re all spread out across the United States now. So while I’m home permanently with two of my family members (three, including Fudge), it’s the one time of year in which it’s guaranteed that the whole family is together.

Not forced together, not required to come together, but a looked-forward-to time of the year in which we reconnect over spiked hot chocolates and family time in the living room.

Christmas is often marketed to be this frivolous time of year in which we are bombarded with advertisements to buy all of this stuff.

But for me, the meaning of Christmas goes beyond all the fluff and tinsel because it can only be felt with the heart, and surrounded by those I love most: my family.

Am I sounding a lot like the Grinch here or what?

The true spirit of Christmas doesn’t come with the smell or the sights, but with the sensations I get when I’m with my family.

It’s love and togetherness.

Course a little playtime in the fresh snow also makes for a little boost of Christmas spirit…