I love Christmas. I always have.
But, until the last couple of days, it hadn't really felt like Christmas to me.
I had tried a few things to get myself more into the holiday frame of mind.
I watched bits and pieces of sappy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel with my wife. I played a few CDs with Christmas songs by some of my favorite country singers - something that usually does the trick. I saw parts of my own version of a holiday classic, "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation" with Chevy Chase.
As I've mentioned before in this space, I've been seeing Christmas decorations in the stores for weeks.
Still, it seemed like something was missing. I haven't been able to hear as much Christmas music this year as I normally do, because the radio in my car doesn't work. When I'm driving to or from work, I usually have such tunnel vision that I barely notice the Christmas decorations in people's yards.
I was getting into a Christmas funk.
Then, a couple of things happened, to begin putting me in the Christmas mood.
The other day, I was watching one of those aforementioned sappy movies on TV when my mother-in-law - an angel of a person - brought me a mug filled with eggnog.
Aside from suddenly becoming my favorite person in the universe at that moment in time, she managed to do what holiday songs, movies and decorations could not. She gave me my first taste of the holiday season, and what a sweet taste it was.
I began to notice more signs of the season, but I still couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that Christmas is less than two weeks away. I've barely done any Christmas shopping, and I haven't been to any of the local malls to partake of the madness there, as I normally do.
Monday night, however, was different. I went to my parents' house, and I saw my sister's car in the driveway. When I walked into the house, the first face I saw was that of my nine-month-old nephew. My sister then handed me a Christmas card with a picture of her, her husband and her two boys.
As I held my nephew and looked at the picture, my mind drifted back to the Christmases I spent as a child, when my sister wasn't much older than that baby of hers is now. It helps that he looks just like her.
Suddenly, any hint of a Christmas funk was gone.
As I write this, I find myself anxious to get home tonight. I'm going to break out the Christmas decorations, put on some Christmas music, watch a sappy movie, find the perfect spot to display my sister's Christmas card and, of course, load up on eggnog.
When did my outlook change, you ask? I think it was when I looked at my nephew's face, and saw Christmas.
Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.