What a magical time of year. People are brimming with generosity, carolers are singing in the shopping malls, and restless children are bursting with anticipation all while concerts, parties, decorated cookies, shiny wrapped packages, and bright twinkling lights abound.

I’m feeling quite in the holiday spirit as I enter my apartment and brush off the snow clinging to my red wool hat. I don my warm green flannel jammies embroidered with dancing reindeer, pop a few holiday CDs into my stereo, make myself a cup of hot cocoa with just a splash of peppermint schnapps, and settle in for a peaceful afternoon watching the snow fall. I listen to soft music and open the stack of holiday greeting cards piled on my dining room table.

The cards are a predictable mixture of snowmen, angels, camels, and ice skating penguins. Stuffed inside most of the cards are school pictures of grandchildren and photocopied letters filled with news of all the feats my friends have accomplished during the year.
Topping off my mug with another tiny splash of peppermint schnapps, it suddenly occurs to me that my friends are no doubt anxiously waiting me to inform them about the exciting things I have been doing all year. I’ll just make a quick trip to Staples for a stack of holiday paper and a new color ink cartridge, then stop at the post office for some seasonally inspired stamps, write a brilliant and newsy letter, address the envelopes (providing I can locate my old address book), stamp the envelopes, and drop them in the mailbox. Except, it’s snowing, I’m already in my reindeer jammies, and I waited too late to mail them anyway. Besides, I’m not at all sure how to write a holiday letter.
It seems my only option is to email my letter. As I sip my hot cocoa, I search Google for “how to write a Christmas letter” and am thrilled to see 12,973,814 results. The suggestions include choosing a few highlights to elaborate upon and perhaps adding a favorite holiday recipe. It sounds easy enough, so here we go:
I hope this season finds you happy, healthy, and cozy warm. I have had a wonderful year living in our vibrant little quadrant of the city. I attended community and social events at our charming SW Duck Pond, bought fresh veggies at the Saturday morning farmers’ market, and also enjoyed the SW Arts Fest, plays at Arena Stage, and watching the progress of the exciting Wharf redevelopment.
My son, Peyton, celebrated the second anniversary of his restaurant, The Kangaroo Boxing Club (I should recommend that he add hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps to their holiday bar menu because it’s really, really, really good).
Living so close to Nationals Park afforded me the opportunity to attend many Nats games at the stadium. Peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and Merlot is a yummy combination on a balmy summer evening at the ballpark. On chilly December afternoons like this, however, I prefer a soothing mug of hot cocoa with an itty-bitty splash of peppermint schnapps (what did I do with that bottle? Oh, there it is).
I am relishing all of the perks that come with aging. I swapped my pretty green SmarTrip card for a bright yellow one proclaiming my advanced years to the general Metro-riding public. As a bonus, I get senior discounts at movies, restaurants, and Nationals Park (their red wine is surprisingly good, but not quite as tasty as this warm cocoa and peppermint schnapps. I think I’ll add just one more teeny-weeny splash).
My hectic life includes going out with old geezers, known as carbon dating, and finding fun ways to potentially break a hip, like swing dancing and playing Pickleball.  
It seems my social status has progressed from just being tolerated to “cute little old lady.” One afternoon, my date and I were enjoying a picnic at Lansburgh Park when a couple that must have been a few decades younger than us strolled by. The young woman smiled wistfully and remarked, “Aw, that’s so sweet.”         
(So, let’s see. I highlighted a few events from the past year and what was the other thing I need to include? Maybe a tiny drop of peppermint schnapps will jog my memory…oh, yes, a holiday recipe.)
Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps:
In a large mug mix two heaping tablespoons of cocoa mix with one cup of milk.
Heat in microwave 45 seconds.
Add  four oz. of peppermint schnapps.
(Whoa…computer chairs really should have seat belts…)
By: Deborah Sherwood
Deborah Jones Sherwood is a professional speaker and writer specializing in the history of America’s First Ladies. You can view her website at http://www.deborahjonessherwood.com/.

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