My name is Amanda and I listen to Christmas music on November 1st.

There I said it.

Actually, I turned on a little Nat King Cole at the end of our trick-or-treating extravaganza and it was magical. Ya know why? I had four, high-octane sugar-induced children in the car who were literally sending me down the road to Crazytown.  As soon as they heard “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” in that smooth and silky voice…they morphed into June Cleaver’s children. Calm, polite, happy.

I get grief from a lot of people every year about my decision to turn on the holiday tunes early. Apparently, this affects their lives deeply 😉

I hear a variation of “you’re forgetting Thanksgiving! So you’re not thankful for anything? You’re wishing away the year! Enjoy every day!!”

Put down the pitch forks and torches for a second. I won’t come over to your house draped in garland and Christmas lights and expect to start caroling with you.

For me, November 1st signifies the beginning of the holiday season. I know in a few short weeks that Thanksgiving will be here…which means family, food, that glorious post-meal nap and more food.  My oldest and I head out late at night to do some shopping…not really to buy anything, but to drink hot chocolate together and walk around stores in the middle of the night (it’s her favorite night because it’s just us). The day after, we all put our finest elastic-waistband pants on and head to downtown Cedar Falls for Holiday Hoopla. There’s really nothing better than small-town America lit up with Christmas lights. And then the next few weeks are my absolute favorite…to see the magic of the season through my children’s eyes. And let’s be honest, my house stays pretty clean throughout the holiday season because “SANTA IS WATCHING!!” I wait all dang year to use that line.

But let me break it down even simpler: Christmas music makes me happy. Not only does it make me excited for the magic…but it takes me back to when I was a kid.

I’m right back to being a kid in my pajamas in the back of the minivan with my brother and sister while our parents drive us around to look at Christmas lights. I’m in my footie PJs on the floor in the family room as I circle EVERYTHING in the giant JC Penny’s Christmas catalog. (I never got that Pac-Man arcade I wanted lol) Building snowmen and forts outside and then coming in for my Dad’s famous Nestle Quick hot chocolate on the stove…with toast of course.  Getting dressed up for Candlelight Mass at midnight while having butterflies in my stomach because I was so excited for Santa.  Sliding down the stairs Christmas morning to see all of those perfectly wrapped presents and overflowing stockings. Then we’re all sitting around my mom’s beautifully decorated Christmas table…and everyone is there. My Grandma Grace, Uncle Kenny, Uncle John & Aunt Marie…all of the people who made every Christmas so special and memorable are there…instead of in heaven.

After a year of medical issues, sleepless nights, bills, more bills, stories of children in our community being abused, children who will never come home again and everything in between…I want instant happiness injected into my life. Christmas music does that for me.

So if you get into my car or come over to my house, expect to be joined by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole.

It’s more than just music for me.

It’s about the memories of the past…

And the magic to come.