There's nothing like being home for the holidays, although the term "home" is taking on new meaning as I "mature". One thing I loved about being home was the almost palpable anticipation of Christmas. It hangs in the air. There's Christmas music EVERYWHERE you go, some stations play nothing but Christmas music, the lights, even my least favorite part (the shopping) gets you looking ahead to December 25. And then trying to make the celebration last as long as possible once the day finally arrives. Some of it is just plain disappointing though. All the emphasis these days is on buying gifts. Where did that concept even come from? I know some people say it comes from the wise men bringing gifts for Christ, but they had to walk so far I'm sure they didn't haul a whole sack of "stuff" with them. And at least at the house where I celebrated this year, we prayed before ripping the paper off the gifts. But sometimes I just look at what we've made it into in our materialistic society. It makes those of us not raking in the big bucks feel a bit pressured to buy something with wow factor for the whole list of people we know. I would never want to receive a gift given out of obligation, and giving one doesn't invoke the kind of feeling that giving a heartfelt gift presents. So while I thoroughly enjoyed being with people I love for the holidays, there are parts of how we celebrate our best friend's birthday that utterly annoy me.