The theory goes that we are here to teach our children. To lead them. To leave the world with people who give more than they take. Or, at the very least, people who don’t end up as a burden to society.
And then there’s Christmas.
When I was little, I loved Christmas. When I was a young married person, I still loved it. I looked forward to spending the time it took searching in little boutiques for the perfect gifts…for my family, my new husband, my friends. I considered myself to be quite the little elf.
The year my mom died unexpectedly, Christmas was hard. In truth, I don’t really remember much of that day. I remember sneaking off to cry, so I didn’t upset my babies. I remember that my mom always made a huge, way-too-big, ridiculously over the top fuss over Christmas…and I missed it…pretty desperately. I missed being one of “the kids” and having a place to go where folks just want to take care of you. Suddenly, I was in charge of it all. Maybe that’s when it lost a little of it’s luster. Trying to deliver a magical day to all of the people you love the most in the world is a big job. It can be overwhelming.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’ve still loved Christmas in the years since. Just not in the same way that I used to. Somewhere along the line, I got all mixed up with the checklists and the “to dos” and trying to figure out what time to go to church so that we could also eat dinner and still get the kids into bed with enough time so that they wouldn’t be nightmares by Christmas afternoon. (That’s probably just my kids, right?) 😉
The other day though…the other day, my nine year old was talking about Christmas. He is still a “true believer”…the only one we have left. I think, in truth, that he’s starting to doubt, because he seems to have doubled-down on believing this year. There have been presents for Alex the elf, notes for Santa and google searches for “Proof that Santa is real”. I suspect this is our last year with believer in the house.
him: Mom, do you know what I like best about Christmas?
me: Uhhhh….cookies? Presents? Unfettered access to candy?
him: (laughing)No, Mom. I love giving people presents. I love making them happy. That’s the best part. It’s even better than getting presents.
Oh. Oh my heart.
Listen…this kid isn’t perfect. He has a temper that he is slowly learning to control and seems to have set a goal of leaving as many dirty glasses as possible around the house. There are days when he drives his sisters crazy. I don’t know that he brushes his teeth as much as he murders the tube of toothpaste all over the sink. And, as many times as I’ve explained the function of the laundry hamper to him, he has, thus far, been unable to master it. In short – he’s a normal kid…not a mini-saint.
But…he has these moments. And this. This broke and healed something in me all at the same time. Because I had forgotten, in truth, why we do it. I just knew there was a lot to be done.
This Christmas will be the first Christmas “without” for quite a few of the people that I love. Without a husband, a father, a mother, a friend. If this is you, please know this..it is hard to be merry when you’ve lost a piece of your heart. Be gentle with yourself. There is so much love out there for you…and giving it away is the best part.