There are certain things that have to be included in Christmas. First and foremost, how about Christ, since it is, after all, a celebration of his birth.

After struggling to find cards with the words “Merry Christmas” instead of just happy holidays, I began to wonder if the true meaning of Christmas has really been lost. If I wanted to tell friends and family “happy holidays,” I could shout it out for any special day of the year. It’s Christmas, not just any old holiday.

Besides keeping Christ in Christmas, it’s a time for family. I’m so fortunate to have them all living so close to us. I realize at times they probably don’t feel it’s as fortunate for them, although I think I’ve done a pretty good job convincing the girls into thinking moving any farther away would be too hard on the grandkids to not be near family. As of right now, it seems to be working.

There’s no doubt I overdo it when it comes to making memories and traditions for the grandkids. Luckily the adult children go along with my craziness during this time of the year and, as long as I feed them, will agree to bring the kids over. If football or basketball are on, it’s even better, as the sons-in-law don’t worry as much about when it’s time to call it a day, unless of course, I run into overtime, and then it’s game over.

We’ll have our annual cookie-making party this weekend and even the oldest granddaughter, who is now a teenager, goes along with my silliness. The adult children beg me each year to not provide so much cookie dough so it will go quicker, but I just can’t help myself. Once the grandkids tire of decorating, I insist the adult children finish off the project. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our kids, complete with Christmas aprons, decorating cookies.

I did have to skip the tradition of having the grandkids over to help decorate the tree. The Christmas decorating took a twist this year with the 6-month-old puppies looking for new items to destroy. We put a dog fence around the tree, but they managed to jump over it, so I ended up just putting festive stuffed animals on it instead of bulbs. At least they won’t cut up their mouths when they make their hourly lunge over the fence.

We are just days away from Christmas and the family continues to pass germs back and forth. Most everyone has some kind of ailment right now, and they’re still blaming me from being sick on Thanksgiving. My motto for the Christmas celebration is to medicate and monitor and come as you are. We can’t infect each other anymore than we already have. We may be passing around the Kleenex box, but we’ll be together, and that’s all that matters.

I’m raising my cough syrup and making a toast – wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a germ-free new year.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence, Missouri. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com