PUBLISHED: 3:59 PM on Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Confessions of a Christmas romantic
It's time for another confession.

I am an absolute sentimental idiot about Christmas.

But not just the holiday or the tree or festivities.

Or putting out a Nativity or going to church.

It's the whole yuletide, ho-ho-hoeing package.

All of it.

Little children cautiously approaching Santa. Santa in general.

Old Christmas movies, although I did finally prove I've become immune to "It's a Wonderful Life." Even if we did have to watch it again last night just to be sure.

Soldiers far from home in hostile country at Christmas. And soldiers coming home for Christmas to open arms of excited kids and loved ones.

Putting out the favorite Christmas decorations, especially those lighted reindeer in the yard, even if there's a gash in the back of my head from the window overhang that attacked me when I wasn't looking.

Hanging decorations is like working on an old car-you know there will be blood involved.

The prospect of a big old Christmas turkey. I like turkey even better at Christmas than at Thanksgiving.

Although my long departed Great-uncle Andrew dearly loved barbecued mutton for Christmas! He raised sheep religiously on his east Texas farm so he could cook a whole one for the Christmas day feast. Can't say that anybody fought to get their plate filled with that greasy old sheep, but it was there just the same.

The rest of the men folk in Dad's family helped cook the Christmas feast.

They started with a huge open pit of coals soon after presents were opened late on Christmas Eve, before we went to Midnight Mass. They would cook turkey, chicken and beef all night, plus that mutton.

What I really love is the traditions. It really doesn't matter what it is, so long as we keep it.

I'm coming to realize though that it may not be just Christmas. It may be that I'm just getting sentimental about time passing. About the realization we don't seem to see the value in many things after they're gone.

Whether it is an old friend, a parent or grand parent, or even a place.

Now can you still claim to be a romantic if you forget a wedding anniversary, but get emotional over a long-gone bird dog?

Not that I ever have - forgotten the anniversary that is.

My son and daughter still chuckle that I get downright choked up every time we drive off the ranch south of San Angelo, Texas for the last time at the end of each Thanksgiving's deer hunt. It's some of the roughest, driest, thorniest country in Texas, yet for almost two decades it has been our family gathering place.

My children, nephews and nieces have grown from toddlers to adults chasing deer there. My brothers and I have grown less hair, and what remains is gray, watching the years pass around camp fires and from deer stands here.

So I hope you don't mind that much of what you see each week in your Capital City Weekly might be a little traditional, a little sentimental, maybe more "good" news.

At the end of the day, and year, that's what we celebrate. So that will be our Christmas wish and promise to you for the New Year-more good news!

Have a happy, joyous, and yes, sentimental holiday!

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weeklyand advertising director of the Juneau Empire.E-mail him