With Thanksgiving rapidly disappearing in the rearview mirror, I can say with unshakable confidence that we are cruising into my favorite season of the year.

I love Christmas!

I pretty much love everything about Christmas. I can get both moved and nostalgic listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing "Silent Night" or Bob Hope singing "Silver Bells."

I always get a genuinely juvenile thrill out of looking at the lights and decorations on neighborhood houses. Whether it is an elaborate display that can be seen from space or a modest string of lights outlining some little person's bedroom window, I enjoy them all.

I also love the smiles. I'm pleased to say I live in a town where strangers exchange smiles as they pass on the street, but there is something about the Christmas season that seems to encourage spontaneous smiling.

Small children, big men, beautiful young woman, stately grandmothers, even teenagers, will return a proffered smile, and I can see — or at least I believe I can — an element of thank you in every shared grin.

I've never been one to particularly worry about being politically correct, and I am aware that at least theoretically there are individuals who take offense if somebody says, "Merry Christmas!"

To date I have never had anyone respond in any way but positively to a heart-felt seasonal greeting.

With my rosy cheeks, silver locks and rather rotund physique, I suppose there are some who fear I might in fact be the renowned sleigh driver and just want to hedge their bets.

To anyone who might harbor that illusion, let me say, be at peace.

There is no circumstance under heaven where this body could get down a chimney, and I won't fly in any vehicle that doesn't have wings and an engine — and eight tiny reindeer do not constitute an engine.

I also love the smells of Christmas. The aroma of a freshly cut limb from a fir tree, or oranges punctuated with a cloud of cloves or a steaming pot of apple cider spiced with cinnamon can fill me with joy.

I love Christmas trees, and in this I am a little schizophrenic.

I can walk into a fancy home and be enthralled with an artfully decorated wonder of symmetry, Tiffany globes and Faberge eggs.

I am equally enchanted by a ragged, misshapen little fir tree that has been decorated with love and a few pennies worth of plastic and paper ornaments.

I adore the wonder in the eyes of a child or grandchild as the earthbound angel stares at the glory of the family Christmas tree. It is particularly precious when the small in question hasn't learned about the connection between the tree and gifts, and their joy is in what they see and not in anticipation of what they think they are going to get. When my seven children were small, they created for themselves a Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve they would all cram into one bedroom, share beds or roll out sleeping bags.

I don't think they got too much sleep, but when they decided that it was light enough outside to risk awakening the bear they called daddy, the six boys and the little sister would begin singing Christmas carols at the absolute top of their voices.

The idea was to awaken the old folks but do it in a way that would keep them in a good mood. It always worked.

This Christmas might see a small herd of grandchildren bunking together in Casa Aylworth III. I don't know if there will be a pre-dawn serenade, but I know I'll love it if there is.