When I was in my 20s and living in Tennessee, I came across a book of Christmas stories written by Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas. They are tales of Christmas in rural Ireland in the early 20th century and they are lovely. The stories are charming and funny with a tad of sentimentality mixed in. The book is a collection of the reflections of an adult looking back on the innocence of the holidays at the age of 9 ----- old enough to have some independence but young enough to still embrace the magic of Santy.
Over the years, I have made it a point to pull out the book in mid-December and read the stories again. By now, the book is a well-known friend, telling tales that I have heard before and wish to hear again. I open the book sure of the laughter and well-turned phrases that I know await me. It's one of my most welcome holiday traditions because in the midst of the busy season it is a reminder that it is in the simple pleasures that the spirit of December is best found.
For me, the most satisfying of those simple pleasures are familiar stories, twinkling lights, the smell of evergreen, and my collection of hand-carved wooden snowmen. It is here that I can locate memories and traditions and a moment of quiet that most spells the pleasure of the season.