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Monday, Dec. 17, 2001 - 10:47 a.m.

Here comes that holiday mood

Driving home Saturday night, a complete and enveloping feeling of happiness came over me. As I listened to Christmas music on the radio, I thought of lunch in New York with Casey and her family -- father, step mother, sister Tessa -- and of the crowds along Fifth Avenue and around Rockefeller Center and the Christmas tree. Aside from the exasperation of those in the crowds and the lines and the waiting, the faces I saw today were happy ones, of families visiting New York, of relatives together for a day, a weekend, a holiday season.

I thought of Sunday, of getting up early to get back into New York for another afternoon in Manhattan with the her family, and thatís what pleased me so much. Just to have a day with Casey in it makes me smile, just to have another chance to laugh with her and hear her voice and touch her and spend some time together gives that day a sense of promise.

Looking ahead to the week to come and the holidays, I realized that after Casey leaves for work Friday, after we have our Christmas on Thursday night, I wonít see her for a week. It will be the first time since she moved to New Jersey in October that we go that long without at least a day or night together. Iím certainly happy she gets to spend a good amount of time at home with her family, and Iíll have work and friends and family of my own to keep me busy. But it will be a long week, Iím sure.

As I listened to the holiday songs on the radio, traditional and original, all done by contemporary artists, I began to slip farther into the Christmas Mood. I smiled more, felt happier, enjoyed the company on the road with me. And then, as one song ended on 94.3, I wondered what would come next. The station plays nothing but holiday music on the weekends from Thanksgiving through Christmas, and in my sporadic listening, Iíve heard several songs over and over again, so I wondered if itíd be one I hadnít heard yet -- if thereíd be some variety.

And on came ďChristmas Wrapping,Ē and without realizing it, I said out loud, ďAh, there it is!Ē I hadnít realized it, but one of the things missing so far this year that had kept me from really getting into Christmas was The Waitresses. I hadnít heard the song yet and I needed to, for some odd and probably embarassing reason. And I felt good rocking along the New Jersey Turnpike past the oil refineries, New York glowing in the distance, Christmas 10 days away.

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