I believe in the pure magic of Christmastime. No, this is not due solely to my religious beliefs. While the true meaning of Christmas described by my faith impacts the joyous feelings that possess me each December, my family’s annual traditions add warmth, love, and contentedness to that joy. Each year, when Thanksgiving comes rollicking around, we haul up decorations from our dusty basement and begin the long process of transforming our house into a winter wonderland. With classic holiday crooners like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole serenading us in the background, what some consider a tedious chore is something I thoroughly enjoy each year. I love the way my house looks; with our beautiful tree always elegantly decorated, our tattered advent calendar that we have had for so long that I can recite it nearly verbatim hanging in the kitchen, and my mother’s ever-expanding collection of snow globes set up in the living room. I love that I am able to act like a little kid again; reading stories with my mom from our special Story-A-Day-‘Til-Christmas book and getting excited about my favorite Christmas movies being shown on television, usually seizing the chance to sing along obnoxiously to Snow Miser and Heat Miser’s songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus. After a short while, our house does not only look like a cozy scene straight from a Christmas movie, but it smells like one, too. The delicious aroma of gingerbread is always present at my house at Christmastime. My mom and I will spend hours on end in the kitchen, baking and perfecting Christmas cookies that we will share with my aunts and cousins at our yearly cookie swap. It always precedes the true Christmas festivities, and it is a time for the many girls in the family to catch up, laugh, and eat plenty of Christmas cookies and drink coffee. However, I believe that this year, the cookie swap will have a more significant meaning as we remember my grandmother’s life. This year will reflect the ceasing of one of our family traditions from Christmases past. For the last seven years or so, everyone would trek out to Saint Patrick’s Manor in Framingham to throw my grandmother a Christmas party, as it was one of her favorite holidays. Despite that nearly her whole family was with her on the merry occasion, my grandmother was never truly aware of our presence in the same way we were of her company. Alzheimer’s claimed the last precious years of her life, and my poor, wonderful grandmother was trapped in a place where she suffered and none of us could do anything to help her. We tried to console ourselves by this gathering with her loved ones to celebrate the cherished holiday, but her lack of response caused our hearts to be filled with grief and sadness. My grandmother passed away on November 4, 2009, and so this Christmas’s significance will be different for us all. However, I am comforted by the fact that my grandmother is now in a place where she can be truly happy and no longer has to suffer. I know that she will be the most beautiful Christmas angel of all watching all of us, and even though she won’t be here physically, her soul will be with us all. And so, this is why I believe in Christmas magic and the family unity and love that it strengthens.