There isn’t anything I don’t love about this time of year. Although, after I had children the personal magic waned as I focused on making it come alive for them.
It’s easy, if we let it, for this season of wonder to become a month of effort and obligation.
My goal, like parents everywhere, has been to make Christmas morning fabulous. And I have. Year after year, after year. But, in doing so, the focus on what I value in the season took a back seat to what I thought I needed to do for everyone else.
Not the religious traditions, which I practice, and count on. Not the shopping, which is fun and challenging … and rewarding when I find just that right, perfect thing.
I think it’s the quiet moments I forget to make time for as I fit work and shopping into decorating and entertaining. Along with all the usual activities that fill up a day.
My fondest Christmas memory as a girl (besides all the presents) is sitting curled on the couch at my parents’ house after my dad strung the tree with lights, (after sorting out tangles, broken bulbs, fevered swearing, and pledges of “never again!”)
I’d squint until the spectrum of color ran kaleidoscopically together, marveling at something as amazing as bringing a tree into the living room for a month.
As an adult I have strived to make Christmas perfect. But what I forgot is that it already is.
This year, I’m searching for that old Christmas magic in concerts, decorating, baking, and enjoying the here and now. I’ll go shopping. And also sit back and remember where I came from, the joy of years gone by, and the people I shared it with.
I’ll light the candles on an Advent wreath. And I’ll remember when I and my four siblings, now three, frantically shook boxes, guessed at gifts, and squinted until the lights on the tree ran together in the perfect Noel moment.
I know we are always making new memories. But this year I hope to revel in the basics … the prayers, the music, the smiles, and also what I hold in my heart … which is what Christmas is really all about … isn’t it?