It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

By Katy Ruth Camp

Well, hopefully.

The holidays really are wonderful, but they also can be trying what with all of the last-minute gift-buying, quality (sometimes too much) time with family members and trying to find the perfect outfit/ugly sweater/cocktail dress for a million and one holiday parties and galas.

But, rejoice! The holidays are about love and camaraderie and reflecting on what is important in life. So keep those things in mind as you wait in line at Target for 30 minutes behind a screaming toddler who periodically throws his toy at your face.

I’m sure this holiday season will be like most in the recent past: my brother and I will argue over the remote, my calendar will look like the alphabet had a conniption and my Dad will buy my dogs Christmas pajamas for a good laugh.

One tradition in our family during our Christmas celebrations at my Dad’s home in Kennesaw is to play BINGO for scratch-off lottery cards. It isn’t caroling in the neighborhood or decorating the Christmas tree, but it’s a tradition and it’s our tradition.

One year, my aunt thought she won $10,000 on a scratch-off and began excitedly espousing all of the things she and my uncle were going to do with the money. Those dreams quickly vanished when my brother took another look at it and had to tell her it was worth $80. Still a good win for a scratch-off, but it wasn’t going to do much for paying off their camper.

There are many other holiday traditions in Cobb County. The Marietta Pilgrimage Tour of Homes is always fun, assuming there is good weather. I am the House Chair for the Holland-Higginbotham House this year or, as homeowner Laura Higginbotham called it, her “Most Special Docent.” This year’s homes are all in the beautiful Kennesaw Avenue District and volunteering for the Pilgrimage always puts me in the Christmas spirit, with all of the beautiful decorations and hot coffee and friends and family walking home to home.

And it can’t be holiday season without a party at Kim Gresh’s Marietta home! I think I went to four holiday parties at Kim and George’s house last year – so many that I lost five pounds walking up and down that steep driveway of theirs, then gained it back in the food I ate. And if you’ve ever been to one of her parties, then you know about the Santa in the bathtub – that is always a favorite picture spot for me and my friends! Me and Wendy Bunch hilariously almost fell into Santa’s tub full of plastic bubbles last year, trying to get a good picture with him. I’m pretty sure Kim keeps Carriage House Catering and owner Jeff Brister in business just from her holiday parties alone! But she does them for the various charity organizations she so graciously volunteers for and donates to, so the community is better for them – and for her.

The Queen of Christmas is at it again this year with her own tradition. No one outdoes Marie Barnes when it comes to Christmas decorations, and I mean no one! The home she shares with her husband and former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes on Whitlock Avenue in Marietta is filled with 26 Christmas trees this year, a large front yard decorated with what appears to be all of Garden Ridge’s holiday section and so many Nutcrackers that Marie said she’s lost count. “I’ve got Nutcrackers on the television stands, in the pantry, under the bed – they’re everywhere!” she said. She also has Nativity scenes and countless other decorations spread throughout their home. I’m pretty sure Marie has a small army come in each year to make sure everything is up before the first of December.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? No matter what they are, just remember to smile, breathe and appreciate everything around you. And that mother with the screaming toddler could probably use a hug, too.

Happy Holidays!

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