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To: My Fans!
From: Ann
It’s Holiday Time!

December 2001

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…" The holidays are here, and that means it's time for me to bring out all my favorite Christmas music! I've made a little rule for myself — I'm not allowed to play any of my Christmas CDs until after Thanksgiving. And, since Thanksgiving was early this year, I feel as if I'm getting an extra few days! I like all kinds of Christmas music — right now I'm listening to Rosemary Clooney sing some traditional holiday favorites, but next I'll be hearing Bruce Springsteen belt out Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. George Winston's piano renditions are beautiful and soothing, but whenever Alvin and the Chipmunks sing "We can hardly stand the wait, please Christmas don't be late," I sing along at the top of my lungs!

I've also taken out my box of holiday decorations, most of which I've inherited from my parents. My father always took on the task of holiday decorating with gusto, and now I like to decorate my mantle in much the same way he did when I was younger. There are lots of ornaments and little wooden figures on display. On the coffee table stands the Santa Claus doll made by a great-aunt of mine long before I was born. The tree is not up yet. Every year I think I am going to get a live tree and plant it in a special place in my yard on December 26th. Then I decide that instead, I'll go to a tree farm and chop one down myself. And every year, I run out of time and end up heading into town to buy a tree from one of the lots! But the end result is the same, and the tree, the decorations, and the music always make me feel happy, safe and comforted.

I love living in the country, but every year I like to head into New York City to see the huge tree on display at Rockefeller Center. And one of my favorite things to do is walk down the city streets at night and see all the lights and the store decorations. The Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall is famous throughout the country, as is the annual production of "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Garden. I've already told my sister that I get dibs on taking my nephew to both of these in another year or two. (He's a little young right now.)

My favorite new tradition is to go into the town of Woodstock, which is not far from where I live, on Christmas Eve. Every year, Santa arrives there in some stunning manner. Last year he emerged from inside an enormous suspended candy cane! I have no idea what's planned for this year, but I wouldn't miss it for anything.

Another tradition that began when I was an adult, brings me a great deal of pleasure every December — I go shopping for gifts for homeless or underprivileged kids who are aided by city organizations. I'm given the age and sex of each child on the list, and then I have a blast going up and down the aisles of a big toy store looking for games, dolls, art supplies, and stuffed animals that I think the kids will enjoy. Because I still remember how it felt to open a special gift waiting just for me on Christmas morning, I want other kids to experience the same thing.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, I hope your holiday is filled with laughter, good health, and happy times with friends, family and loved ones.

Wishing you the happiest holiday season,
Ann

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