On Friday I went to the Denver Lights Parade with my fiance, and although at first it felt odd to be getting in the Christmas spirit, my heart was calling out for the holiday by the end.

Two of our friends held up a balloon in the parade–the star attraction, Mr. Waddles. We got to wave and cheer for them as they passed. Nearly every person in the parade wore lights, and the bands played Christmas music through the crowded streets. However, it wasn’t the music or any element of the parade that filled my heart with Christmas cheer; it was the little boy beside us on his dad’s shoulders who screamed each time a float passed, who was overwhelmed by the sight of Santa, and who had the night of his life watching the parade.

It was seeing this child that made me realize why Christmas seemed to arrive so slowly when I was younger. I would spend months perfecting my list for Santa, I would count down the days far in advance, and in school and at home, I would work on Christmas crafts.

Now, I go to work, complete grad school homework and get caught up in daily routine. Rather than count down the days, I am astonished at the fact it is already December and I have less than a month to soak in the special parts of the holiday season.

It’s not that I don’t look forward to Christmas. It just seems to come so fast, and I want that childhood spirit and excitement back.

This Christmas, I opt to have the love and joy of a child. I will focus on the true meaning of the holiday while also enjoying the gingerbread house making, egg nog drinking, tree decorating, and gift shopping. I will yet again attempt ice skating (even though I am terrified and fall every year), and I will sing Christmas carols often–even if I am just alone in my car on my way to work.

After attending the parade on Friday, the weekend was filled with Christmas festivities. My fiance and I purchased and decorated a Christmas tree for his home, we sang carols and sorted gifts at the toy drive at the Colorado Children’s Hospital, and we even drank our first cup of eggnog.

It’s the happiest time of the year, and I will embrace it.