Christmas has come and gone – well, sort of. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a firm believer in the 12 days of Christmas, not just one. As a result, I’m still opening one gift a day, thanks to my friend Brenda Baratto, who agrees with me on 12 days of Christmas and continues to celebrate with me – for the last several years, we’ve exchanged gifts for each of the 12 days of this holiday, and I have stuck with the tradition of opening one for each day leading to Epiphany.

But as I look back on all of this season, I find there were so many things that have become traditions, and a few that I can only call serendipitous.

I started the month of Advent as the December speaker for Grace UMC’s Prime Time (seniors). I began with a disclaimer that I am a writer, not a speaker, but those attending the luncheon were very gracious, and I quickly relaxed as I shared a few stories, mostly from my life in the world of journalism.

We spent much of December trying to get to the root of our problem with our cable. After visits from a “cable guy” four days in a row, the last cable technician actually gave us his cell phone number and said to call him directly if we had additional problems. Unfortunately, we did have to call him the next day, but he appears to have solved our problem – the cable has been working well for about two weeks.

Next were a couple of fun events. Tom and I attended a Christmas gathering of North Augusta Forward board members, held at AR Workshop, where guests could make a Christmas ornament. Then we went to the final fundraiser for Community Ministry of North Augusta’s Forward in Faith capital campaign. We heard from folks like Dr. Randy Cooper, who gave an impassioned plea for supporting the Community Ministry effort. And it was a lucky night for Tom and me – we both won a door prize, and I was high bidder on a basket of treats.

A group of businesswomen in North Augusta long ago established a First Friday lunch group, held together by Brenda Baratto. We met at Augustino’s and enjoyed catching up before Christmas.

I worked at the Christmas Craft Show for a cause begun by a member of our church – Formula for Life. Catherine Vandergrift started making crocheted necklaces about 10 years ago. The proceeds from the $5 necklaces are used to provide formula for children in Africa whose mothers are HIV positive.

Daughter Cat and I once again enjoyed the Beta Sigma Phi Christmas Tour of Homes and Brunch. This has become a tradition for us. It’s always a joy to see the fashions modeled during the brunch, as well as the gorgeous homes on the tour each year.

North Augusta’s Christmas Parade, organized by the local Lions Club, is always fun.

Over the past two years I have been taking classes at USCA, and there’s always a gathering of participants during December. I enjoyed sitting with fellow students – often people I heretofore have not known – and hearing their views on the classes we’ve shared.

Another tradition, of sorts, involves North Augusta High School’s Real Life 101. Each semester students get a week of etiquette classes, followed by a luncheon at the Pinnacle Club – so students can practice what they have learned. As usual, that was delicious.

I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I are in a bridge group that has been together for the last 30-plus years. We always share a dinner in December, and this year I made dessert. It was a festive cranberry meringue cake. It had ginger snaps in the meringue, something I thought seemed strange; however, it was delicious and a treat I’d be happy to make again.

Our church always has a Christmas breakfast together. It’s a hectic time for “extraneous” baking, so my secret when I’m in a bind is to buy frozen sausage balls at Walmart, of all places. They’re not quite as good as the ones my daughter, Cat, makes, but they’re pretty darn good.

This fall grandson Cade has been taking a drama class as an exploratory. We got to see a play with Cade in the lead. Not only was he a natural, remembering all his lines and performing them with just the right amount of humor, but he ad libbed in several places, making the play even funnier than it might have been. We’re now looking at a youth acting workshop that takes place once a month as a place for Cade to continue honing his skills as an actor.

We also enjoyed grandson Thomas’ Christmas program at Grace UMC – he sang and did all the hand motions. It was great.

We have two birthdays in December – granddaughter Pearce turned 7, and Payton turned 10 – so along with looking for just the right Christmas gifts, I try not to let the holiday overshadow my granddaughters’ birthdays.

And as I was in the throes of Christmas shopping, I had a heartwarming moment standing in Big Lots. As I was checking out, a man stopped in front of me and said, “Phyllis Britt!” He proceeded to tell me he’d been reading my column for years, listing a few things that had stuck with him – the lives of my kids and grandkids, the lives and deaths of our pets, Emmi, Arthur and Brodie. So to Oscar Ceron (I hope I didn’t totally butcher the spelling), if you’re reading this, you made my day. Thank you for your kind words. I hope your Christmas was a happy one.

On Christmas Eve my daughter-in-law Joy hosted a dinner for both sides of her family. As usual, it was fun to spend some time with the “other side,” and this year Joy’s cousin Charlie was in the mix – he is a really interesting person, and I hope to see more of him as time goes by.

Christmas Day was a particular joy this year. Our Greenville crew was here, so we had 15 for dinner and gift exchange. I’m still resisting going to drawing names, though a couple of us have talked about it. I admit with that many folks in attendance and with the way I continue to do Christmas opening presents takes a long time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was especially fun because even our youngest, 3-year-old Maddie, got it. She loved opening presents and even helping others open presents.

So I’m entering 2020 with an extra dose of joy in my heart. I hope your Christmas season has been half as fun as mine.