It really is the most wonderful time

December is like a l-o-n-g tunnel, and it can seem as though there’s no hint of light at the end of it.

Or as I was laughing with a group of friends recently — most of us exasperated by schedules accelerated and compounded courtesy of the holiday season — it’s like a box you’re trapped in, determined to beat your way out of and make it to January.

Now these two assessments of the most wonderful time of the year offered on Christmas Eve probably don’t sound very chirpy and cheerful.

It won’t get me seasonal work as a Ho-Ho-Ho poster child.

The older I get, the more I accept that this holiday season is whatever you make it to be — underrated, overrated, just another day or something incredibly beautiful and incredibly special whether we realize it or not, whether we admit it or not.

I confess that I fluctuate in who I am and how I feel.

Some days I’m Clark Griswold and want a million outdoor lights on the house. Let’s do this season up big and the heck with the electric bill!

Other days, I’m Scrooge, bothered by Christmas falling on a weekday, just making everything more labor intensive in the workplace to have one day off. And I don’t feel like having company or going anywhere. Color me grumpy.

Sometimes I inwardly wince when I’m asked what is the common, reflexive question of the month, a question asked in sincerity — “Are you all ready for Christmas?”

My response, I suppose, is pleasant enough, but honestly, internally sometimes I’m thinking, oh yeah, I’m ready alright — ready to get on over with all of this madness and flip the calendar to January.

Holidays magnify what you have and what’s been lost. My heart aches for many people I know who are cycling through a first set of holidays, fresh from grief at the death of a loved one.

Our newsroom, for example, which has undergone many changes this past year, lamented at our 2017 Christmas covered-dish, that fellow staff writer Mark Miller was feasting with us at our newsroom smorgasbord, his death only days later on Christmas Day 2016 so shocking and unexpected.

Sometimes, though, I’m still that wide-eyed little girl who remembers all the joy the season could foster, from baking sugar cookies to decorating the tree to awaiting Santa’s visit. Anything was possible.

I can still remember how excited I was when I about 5 or 6 and had been given a little bit of money to Christmas shop. I splurged on a 5 cent package of Kleenex and presented it to an unsuspecting relative. You would have thought I was giving this great uncle a winning lottery ticket or the keys to a new car.

I felt joyful!

Despite my mood swings from Clark to Ebenezer, I still have those moments of feeling joyful and feeling thankful, especially when I watch the Charlie Brown Christmas show, one of my favorites.

“Doesn’t anybody know what Christmas is all about?” Charlie Brown wonders aloud.

And Linus steps up to the plate, sharing the good news of the birth of a Savior, a gift for us all.

My prayer for this Christmas is that you welcome that gift and feel joyful.

And that you see that light at the end of the tunnel.

Merry Christmas.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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