When I was little, I remember Christmas Day being long and luxurious. I’d wake up early (too early) and then rouse my sister. Together, we’d tiptoe down the stairs to see what Santa had brought us. After we’d surveyed the pile of gifts, we’d wake my parents, who would come downstairs in their robes, make a strong pot of coffee and watch us unwrap gift after gift after gift. I realize, now, that there was even more pleasure in this moment for them than there was for me.
The rest of the day seemed to draw on fabulously forever. We’d tinker with our new toys. Play board games. Watch Christmas movies. Eat a delicious meal (at the kids’ table, of course). As I got older, my family changed – so the traditions did, too. But, every year, I took pleasure in the easiness of it all. The togetherness. The time. They gave me the gift of joy every Christmas.
I realize now how much work went into making those Christmas days seem so magical and effortless. From decorating to gift-getting to family-gathering to meal-making, my parents created a charmed bubble within which we were all suspended, not just for 24 hours but also for the days and weeks leading up to the big event.
They have big Santa boots to fill. But I take a lot of pride and pleasure in attempting to follow in their footsteps. And we do it all – and then some. The tree and pillows and decorations are always up early. We go see the big man from the North Pole and have a holiday lunch with my dad and stepmom. I have an annual holiday lunch with my sister and my dad. We have an advent calendar stuffed with little gifts for the boys each day. We watch holiday movies, bake cookies, drive around to see lights. We donate gifts to people less fortunate than us. We host friends and family in ugly Christmas sweaters and have an annual cut-throat white elephant gift exchange. And I love every minute of it!
Yes, it’s time-consuming. Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, I sometimes think there is too much expecting and not enough thanking, too much taking and not enough giving. (We’re always working on that.) But at the end of the day, if my kids and my family feel the wonder of Christmas in our home, then it’s worth every penny and minute spent.
Santa brought me some pretty awesome gifts as a kid:
1. Every board game I’ve ever gotten (I love to play games)
2. A cardboard grocery store, complete with plastic phone, cash register and pretend money (you have no idea how much I loved this!)
3. A Good Humor ice cream cart, complete with plastic vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream – and the Good Humor HAT!
But, as I get older, I don’t really want “stuff” anymore . Instead, my list looks more like this:
1. Let the kids have the best day ever
2. Let the magic of Christmas last a little bit longer
3. Don’t let the <insert protein> overcook
4. Don’t run out of booze on Christmas Day
5. PLEASE let my husband suspend his “no plastic or paper” rule for just one day so we can throw away the plates instead of doing dishes! (Highly unlikely … )
I’ll leave you with this one last thought: If we were all as good to each other year-round as we are during this time of year, the world would be a much nicer place. Maybe we should give it a shot!
I hope Santa is good to you this year. Cheers to a Merry Magical Christmas!