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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … or is it? If you have been allowing warm temperatures or desert sand to dampen your holiday spirit, I’m here to offer some advice on how to get in the mood to make merry.

Some of you, I realize, are living in parts of the world where a white Christmas is almost guaranteed. But the chances of snow on Okinawa are slim to none this year, just as they were in 1993.

Ron and I had been parents for less than a month when our first Christmas overseas arrived. We bought more decorations that year than before or since in an effort to make our townhouse on Camp Lester look and feel as festive as possible.

My parents were flying over from North Carolina to meet their first grandson, and we wanted our home to say, “Happy Holidays.”

By the time my parents arrived, I had shopped, cleaned and cooked my way into a frenzy. It wasn’t necessary because Jimmy was the main attraction of that holiday; no one would have noticed if the tree wasn’t trimmed.

That will always be one of my favorite Christmases because it is the first one we celebrated as a family.

It was also our first Christmas spent in a “summertime” place. Suddenly, I realized there are revelers who find it hard to deck the halls when it feels like spring outside.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas,” I would be rich enough to provide Glory with her own personal trainer.

Instead, my pup has a belly like a bowl full of jelly, and I have words of advice to get you in the holiday mood, no matter where you will be two days from now.

Cool temperatures are as close as a local movie theater or the frozen foods section of your nearest commissary. Go hang out in a cool place until you get the shivers or management asks you to leave.

Stop by the video store on your way home and rent your favorite Christmas movie. I’m partial to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Feel free to invite friends over to make fun of how corny the movie is.

Laughter is one of the symptoms that you are coming down with a bad/good case of holiday spirit. Sharing food and drinks with your friends will make the symptoms even worse/better.

Surround yourself with Christmas sounds and smells. If being separated from someone you love this season has you feeling blue, there are plenty of old sentimental tunes that sympathize with your predicament.

Ron and I were able to get real pine trees for the three Christmases we spent on Okinawa. They arrived from the States in late November and began losing needles on the drive back home.

Still, our dried-out Okinawa Christmas trees managed to make the living room smell like Christmas. You may not have the opportunity or the room for a tree, but “that Christmas smell” is just a pine-scented air freshener away.

There are two more ways you can catch the holiday spirit before Christmas slips away. One is to go out and throw yourself in the middle of that last-minute shopping madness.

Check out the panicked husbands at the perfume counters and the babies crying on Santa’s lap. Soon you will feel the excitement in the air spread your way until your wallet practically jumps out and says, “Spend money!”

If all else fails, there is one activity- that will make you feel Christmas from your head to your toes.

Go to a Christmas Eve church service. Count your blessings. Have a happy holiday.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. Find the Zichs online at


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