I have not been feeling very “holiday cheer-ish” lately. I can’t quite put my finger on why… maybe it’s irritation at having to put all the Christmas decor (and really anything) out of reach of an active toddler, being completely over the commercialization and overly advertised sales of the season, or because the carols seem to start earlier every year – I just feel like a Grinch.
But I have two kids, and the comparisons to other parent’s social media holiday magical bragging, I felt the need to buck up and fake the spirit for their sake. This evening, I figured getting dressed up for some pictures in front of the fully decorated trees at Union Station would do just the trick. Because the one thing I always love the most about this time of year is the arrival of real mail – and I love sending just as much as I love receiving. I figured this would be the opportunity to take pictures for our annual holiday cards.
With two sharply dressed kids, a wide open space to run, a tired camera only wanting to focus every third picture, paying for two hours of parking and only needing about ten minutes because the greatest part of Union Station was closed for an event (seriously…) It was not the ideal photo op afternoon I was hoping would reignite the much needed enthusiasm. I looked through the pictures trying to find something salvageable because I could tell there was no way to get the little guy to sit and smile, I could tell most of what I had taken was a waste and I could feel the Grinch creeping back in. But they were happy, my kids were smiling and having fun. We proceeded to Crown Center for more running wild while looking super fresh. And on the way home I passed our usual neighborhood turn and went to a Christmas lights display – the kind where you tune your radio so the lights go with the song playing on the station. My daughter danced along and my son sat silently content.
After putting the kids to bed tonight I put the pictures on my computer to order some cards… After all it is only 15 days until Christmas and if I didn’t order soon I might as well be sending Valentines cards. I found one picture that really made my Grinch heart grow, despite the slight fuzziness, I can see their excitement and lively personalities. It doesn’t matter how I am feeling about the perfectly imperfect top half decorated Christmas tree or how the season of giving turns into the season of needing. I am so blessed to be able to create a season of loving and happy memories for these two amazing individuals and their excited energy is contagious.
Nearly every morning of the year Mom would be the one waking me up, with the exception of Christmas. It seems kids just don’t get much sleep with the anticipation of stockings and presents. In the wee hours of the morning we had to stay in bed giddy with excitement for as long as we could stand it before going to wake up our parents. I don’t recall who of the three siblings would have the courage to jump out of bed first, though, as soon as one set of footprints hit the floor the others would follow quickly.
We’d preview the fireplace where the stockings were hung to run downstairs to wake Mom and Dad. Both sluggishly bundled in terry clothe robes as we’d hurry them back to the living room. Christmas morning always started with the stockings and the aroma of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven.
Christmas morning of 1987 was no different. The three of us gathered around the intricately carved coffee table eager to pour out the contents of our stockings. The suspense building as we waited for them to be removed from the fireplace and set into our three, five and seven year old hands. At last it seemed Christmas had begun when we were in possession of these lovingly hand-made felt stockings and my full attention was on the trinkets and treats inside. I hadn’t been paying attention to my parents seated behind me until I had touched every item and spied all of what my brother and sister had gotten.
When I did notice my parents it was when my mom was holding a simple plastic Easter egg. Looking back it makes sense because my dad never learned how to wrap a present, I suppose he reached for the first container he could find to place this gift. My mom burst into tears when she cracked the egg open. What kind of rotten egg is this? I wondered as I jumped up to console her and ask what was wrong.
“Happy tears,” she reassured, “These are happy tears.”
Although I was too young to read and I never really learned what specifically was written inside the silly Easter egg, that Christmas Dad gave Mom a vacation to England and Scotland. The holiday egg was the moment I learned tears are not just for when we are sad, they are for when we are really happy too.
Since I am lacking in skill in the kitchen, Parker and I worked on a crafty project in preparation for Thanksgiving. We painted her hands and printed cards for her family and a few friends. She wrote out her name (in her sweet four year old print) on hearts and we pasted the turkeys, hearts, pictures and a simple poem onto cards. Parker stickered up the envelopes while I printed out the addresses and sent them across town and across the country.
Parker and I talked about her cousins and her family, she was excited knowing her thoughtful piece of mail would make them smile. As Thanksgiving seems less and less about being thankful, and more and more about consumerism and holiday shopping – I want to ensure she knows the holiday is dedicated to family time. I want her to spend time appreciating the people around us who help make our life wonderful.