“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Christmas. I love the way the word rolls around in my mouth like cinnamon candy, sweet and spicy and surprising. I love the memories it evokes, the way it fills my heart with childlike hope and excitement. And now, as a mama, nothing brings me more joy than to share the season with my little ones, to re-create traditions from my own childhood and start new ones in our home.
I remember sitting fidgety and suppressing giggles during the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church like it was yesterday. Knowing that a buffet of deliciousness and new fuzzy warm pajamas awaited us, my brothers and I nudged and tickled each other through the hymns. It was all we could do to wait for “Joy to the World” to burst forth from the chorus so we could race to the car and head home. On the drive, I remember craning my neck to look out at the night sky. We would look and look until inevitably one of us saw an overhead plane’s flashing red light and proclaim that we’d seen Rudolph. Santa was on his way!
We would stay up as late as we possibly could for a glimpse of the man himself. Then when our parents shooed us to bed so they could create a wonderland under the tree, we would whisper back and forth from our separate rooms in a secret language of whistles and whoops, until one of us drifted off. But nothing compared to the joy of creeping down the stairs on Christmas morning.
When I look back, I don’t really remember the presents we got. Sure, there was that year I got the winter jacket with my swim team logo on it that I’d been coveting. And I’m sure there were dolls and bikes and sleds. But what I remember is the feeling. The anticipation. The excitement. The sheer joy. The magic. And as a parent, that is what I wish for my children. I want them to be awed by the magic of the season.
So, traditions we continue and traditions we create. Like my mother did for my brothers and I, each Christmas my children receive an ornament for the tree. One day, when they move along and have their own Christmas tree, they’ll take a box of their special ornaments along with them. They will laugh, like we do, at the different times and seasons of their lives represented there.
What have done?
We have picked out or make and wrapped up meaningful gifts for our family members and dear friends. We brought our gently loved but no longer played with toys to the Family Center in Great Barrington. Our little elf friends have watched from their hiding spots around the house, ready to report good behavior and kind acts back to Santa. We purchased a Christmas tree from the Congregational Church in Lee and decorated it together in the living room on a Sunday afternoon, trying not to get tangled in the lights and shooing the kitty away. Just a few weeks ago we went to the Holiday Stroll in Great Barrington to sip hot cocoa with friends, dance to the Berkshire Bateria drumming, and wait in line to visit Santa Claus. And we will continue to sing Christmas carols in the car for the whole month of December.
Honey and Birdie are still young. Honey is now beginning to get really excited about the holidays; he understands about elves and Santa and giving presents with love. And Birdie is just along for the ride. She smiles at Santa when she sees his image and likes to play with the elves when they come down from their perch. So for now, I find ways to share with them the scents and sounds and feelings of the season, in hopes that they’ll look back on it one day with shimmering eyes too.