Thursday, I saw my first holiday-themed commercial of the season. It was the one with the Hershey Kisses as bells, playing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
I smiled. Not only because it replaced those obnoxious political ads featuring candidates in grainy, dimly lit videos as the ominous voice-over guy talked about how our country would be doomed if you-know-who got elected, but also because it unofficially marks the start of the holiday season.
We get to watch "A Christmas Story" and "Elf" and parades on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. We get to exchange cookies and gifts.
The church pews get a little more crowded, and the stores get a lot more crowded.
And the whole time, memories are being made. I love a good story, and I love when you can sense a story in the making. That happens a lot around the holidays.
Christmas reminds me of going to Luers Tree Farm just outside Schererville to hunt for the perfect tree.
My brother and I would fight over which tree was better. Then Mom and Dad would tell us if we didn't stop fighting, we would go home without a tree.
Then Mom would decide on a tree she liked. Dad would saw away at the trunk, often on a slant, which led to a swear word-infused struggle later that day as we tried to secure it in the tree stand.
Thumbs were injured. Scattered pine needles lay like land mines embedded in the carpet fibers, waiting to attack bare feet.
Then, we would work as a team to relay the Christmas decorations from the attic to the front room.
My job was to steady the wobbly, paint drip covered wooden ladder as my dad or brother lowered bins full of pointy glass ornaments above my head for me to catch, bringing a cloud of dust and mouse droppings in its wake.
And, inevitably, I was the one tasked with testing each string of lights. First, I had to unravel the tumbleweed of light strands that somehow knotted while sitting untouched in the attic over the course of the year.
But when all the decorations were up and the family was back on speaking terms, it was a beautiful sight.
So as we ease into the holidays and eventually get caught up in the shopping and the parties and the spiked punch, try to take a minute and quiet your mind and pay attention to the memories in the making, the stories being written.
Vanessa Renderman covers health care for The Times. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.