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Sun Herald 25 Days of Christmas: Spread holiday spirit in South Mississippi

Christmas decorations brighten a home in Gulfport during the annual Civic League Tour of Homes, when residents open their homes to raise money that benefits others.
Christmas decorations brighten a home in Gulfport during the annual Civic League Tour of Homes, when residents open their homes to raise money that benefits others. SUN HERALD

Christmas is more a season than a day and although the traditions and celebrations in South Mississippi changed with generations and hurricanes, December has its own special spice on the Coast.

When I share my family's tradition of the 25 Days of Christmas, almost everyone agrees: It's a great way to savor the food, the music and the meaning of Christmas each day from Dec. 1 through Christmas Day.

We started when our kids were small. Dec. 1 we always put out a Nativity scene to remember we celebrate the birth of a child more than 2,000 years ago. Each night, we added another layer to our Christmas memories -- putting up the tree, mailing Christmas cards, watching the Grinch. On a night we're too busy to do anything else, we play Christmas carols during dinner.

"Nobody does Christmas like we do Christmas," our now grown sons still say.

This year, the Sun Herald will share the 25 Days of Christmas to remind people in South Mississippi that Christmas on the Coast is a special blend of Gulf shrimp and fresh camellia blooms on the table, wreaths of magnolia blossoms on the door and lighted boat parades coasting through a sea of reflected color. Santa will parade in most every town. Pusharattas and other Christmas treats will be made with the same recipe that came with each new wave of settlers on the Coast.

And whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or another holiday, December is an easy time to give. Bell-ringers stand outside stores reminding us to be generous and donation boxes fill with toys and food to share with neighbors.

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Kohl's Cares program has raised millions of dollars for programs that benefit women and children, said Bryan Shipman, manager of Kohl's in D'Iberville.

"It gives twice," he said. Kohl's donates the money when the customer buys a Blake Shelton Christmas CD, stuffed animals or books all priced at $5. Many customers then donate the purchase to the Angel Tree or other local toy drive, he said.

Dec. 1 is Giving Tuesday, which began in 2012 as a global way to give back. The Sun Herald runs a list of Holiday Helpers throughout the Christmas season to encourage people to volunteer their time and share their resources and make this a holiday to remember.

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