For the first time in years, we went to a nearby tree farm and rode on the wagon and cut our own Christmas tree.
It was a cold day, and the trees and ground were covered with snow. It was like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.
On the wagon with us were several other adults and four or five children. I'm nearly 70, and my husband is 71 but we were so excited.
We tried to converse with the adults but were met only with uncomfortable half smiles.
Only the children beamed. I'm often out shopping for my large family, so I'm out and about in various shopping areas.
What has amazed me is the abundant but cheerless "happy holidays" from clerks and the bad moods of shoppers.
Understood, prices can stun us, and there's much to be done in these days before Christmas, but isn't anyone happy but me? Normally, I try to be polite and considerate when I shop. And most of the time, I smile and speak to shoppers or store clerks. But rarely does anyone smile or speak back.
At Christmastime, I kind of think that it's a gift from me to Christ if I'm happier and kinder and more thoughtful to my unknowing "brothers and sisters." I try harder to let my happiness show.
If Santa still grants the wishes of a 69-year-old, I'd like to ask for a real smile from the people of Altoona.
My husband and I are retired, and we've not only lived in a number of places in the world, but we also travel a fair amount. We've lived in Hollidaysburg the longest - 23 years now - and long ago, we realized that the beauty of the area keeps us here.
Altoona and the surrounding towns are where we've chosen to live but long ago, we also realized that this is one of the most unfriendly, saddest and sloppiest places that we've encountered.
Folks, it's Christmas! Christmas is more than a magical eve and joyful morning.
Christmas is a season - a period of time when we celebrate the redemptive power of a living savior but also a period of good tidings, good will and all good things abound.
In this world of so much pain and sorrow, we've got a couple times a year in which to focus on what is good about the world.
I'm a strong believer in God, in Jesus Christ and in the power of prayer, but I've also discovered that often God sends his creations - mankind - to be his hands and to answer my prayers.
Maybe Santa follows his example and so first on my Christmas wish is that when you're out and about, smile like you mean it and say, "Merry Christmas."?If you prefer to say "Happy Holidays," then say it like you mean it.
Just for this Christmas season, let's really live "peace on earth and good will toward men."
Smile, folks, just smile.