I love Christmas. I’ve always loved Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I have the best memories from Christmas time as a child and even as a young adult. My parents made the holiday truly magical. A special memory for me was always the night we’d decorate our Christmas tree as a family.
My dad would bring out his old record player and put on Christmas albums. My mom would get out the Santa hats for everyone to wear while my sister and I would put our great-grandma’s hand-knit Christmas stockings on our feet and slide around the house. We’d toast with a “special drink” my sister and I got once a year that my dad made (we eventually learned it was a Shirley temple). As we got older, we would talk about all the ornaments as we pulled them out (my sister and I searching for the “best” ones to hang). The ones from my moms parents from Poland or the “firsts” (first year married, baby’s first Christmas, etc), the ornament with the tree and all of the presents underneath or the shiny heart. We even laughed about the ornaments we made when we were younger. I can picture us now as I tell my sister her ornament is ridiculous and we laugh hysterically (she and I would also devote a side of the tree to ourselves where we’d put all of our ornaments, and we continued to do this as adults!).
I loved Christmas growing up, and I still love it. Of course the real reason to celebrate is Christ, and my parents instilled that very early on in our lives, but it’s those little special family moments that I’ll never forget.
I was really excited for the holidays this year. Even though Grant is only two, Emma is four and a half and I knew the magic for her would start to set in. We began “Elf on the Shelf”, continued our Advent calendar and I just tried to do all the fun things my mom used to do with me and my sister.
I want my kids to love Christmas the way I do. I wanted it to be perfect. And that’s of course, where my problem began. Because the only thing perfect about Christmas is Christ, so trying to have the perfect Christmas holiday isn’t possible.
It all started with my daughter getting sick a little over a week before Christmas. As she got better my son got croup and instead of headed to my dads family Christmas party with my husband and daughter the day before Christmas Eve, we were at urgent care. On Christmas Eve, my husband stayed home with our son while my daughter and I spent Christmas Eve with my moms family (a tradition we’ve had since I was born). Christmas morning was rushed as we woke up late, did presents and raced off to mass where no one wanted to act remotely appropriate. I tried to hold back the tears. We saw my husbands family that afternoon/evening but it was short lived after my son melted down early (HUGE meltdown) because his only nap was missed (we hoped he would sleep on the drive!). I didn’t see my parents or sister and her family as planned because my son was sick. Everything felt rushed, disconnected and separate.
I was sad. I felt defeated. I tried so hard for this “magical” Christmas and it felt nothing like that. Not even close.
But this morning that changed.
Today I danced in the kitchen with my kids. I danced without a care in the world. They both had on their Christmas pajamas and we danced. We danced and laughed and ran around the house. My daughter kept telling me ‘how much fun she was having’ as my son said ‘again mommy’. And that’s when it hit me. Kids are simple! They love simplicity. And at this age, they don’t really understand Christmas. They understand gifts, Santa and Jesus’ birthday but that’s about it. They don’t need big, fancy expensive gifts. They need time. They need love. They need attention. So for thirty minutes, I didn’t focus on anything but dancing with my kids and you know what, it was amazing! Seeing their huge smiling faces over something so simple reminded me why I love Christmas. It’s those special moments. Those memories. It’s magical.
So maybe my holiday wasn’t Facebook perfect. We didn’t get a single family photo together (insert big emoji cry face for me) and we missed a lot of events, but we survived. Christmas isn’t about presents and it never was for us, it’s about family. Christ was born. So today I put away my pity party, and danced in my kitchen with my kids for Christ…and for us.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope Jesus lives in your hearts all year long.