Each year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we haul our Christmas boxes out of the attic. We put up our small, artificial tree, hang our stockings on the electric fireplace, and set up the nativity set.

This year I cried when I unwrapped the baby Jesus figurine and set him in his manger. Tears started. My husband said, "Sentimental sucker." I smiled through my tears, because he has called me that many times in our 30 years of marriage. He says it with love and understanding of his emotional wife.

I was crying for the Christmases of old - when our children were small and we watched their awe and wonder on Christmas morning.

I was crying for the live trees we used to cut at Christmas Tree Hill.

I was crying for the snowy Christmas Eve walks up to our church for midnight mass - and for the delicious turkey sandwiches we had afterward.

I was crying for beautiful Christmas music from singers who didn't feel the need to scream - such as Johnny Mathis, Perry Como and John Denver. (By the way, a CD of Johnny Mathis' Christmas album was playing while we did our decorating. That might have been part of my problem. His voice always gets me.)

I was crying because one of our neighbors here in Florida put up an outdoor display of flamingos with Santa hats. Hundreds of flashing pink lights surround them. The whole yard disturbs my Christmas spirit.

I was crying for the stores in our mall that started showing Christmas goods around Halloween.

I was crying because purple, pink, and neon green are not Christmas colors and should not be made into bows, lights, or other holiday decorations. For heaven's sake, people - green, red, silver and gold. Period.

I was crying because I miss my parents, my aunt and uncle, my sisters and their children, and my dear friends in PA and SC. And, for the first time in 23 years, our grandson Jordan might miss spending the holidays at home. He's in the Air Force and attending tech school in Washington State. His schedule is controlled by the military.

And- probably the most explanatory reason for my tears - I'm suffering through a bout of bronchitis. Haven't felt like myself in a while. Sometimes the medicine is worse than the illness.

I know that my crying was cathartic. I felt better afterwards. Actually, I yelled at myself for getting all emotional. I know better.

My heart is always full around the holiday season. I watch my grandchildren, as they delight over the tree, the gifts, and the cookies. I watch my daughter, who has taken the best of our family traditions and carried them on.

Our 2012 Christmas will be wonderful, I'm sure. I just miss certain things - things that once were but can never be again.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM [1] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.