posted in Parenting
I sat in our recliner next to the lights twinkling on our Christmas tree holding my youngest, Annie. She had woken up and needed cuddles before going back to sleep. It’s a Wonderful Life played on TV, the stockings were filled, and Santa had set the last three new presents under the tree. I felt at peace. I’ve learned I cannot orchestrate this feeling, but need slow down and savor it when it comes.
It’s that moment of peace after the tidying is done, the dishwasher is going, and the dryer is finishing the last load of laundry. That, coupled with the snow falling outside and my sweet baby asleep in my arms, made me feel a quiet in my soul. After all the planning, purchasing and preparing this time to pause from all the doing is almost sacred. I’d made a vow -even if it’s just until the next kid needs me.
I remember having some pretty incredible Christmas mornings as a child and some that were memorable for other reasons. When I was 8, I walked downstairs to a tree surrounded with gifts. That year my capstone gift was a brand-new Barbie dream house to share with my sister.
Ten years later, as my parents went through a messy divorce, my mom, sister and I drove to see some Christmas lights displayed in park near my house. It was a last ditch attempt to muster up some Christmas cheer (I don’t think we even had a tree or presents that year.
The line to get into the display was deceptively long, weaving through the park like a line at Disneyland. We waited 45 minutes longer than we expected and in that time there was yelling, tears, and even a minor car accident. By the time we got to the entrance they’d run out of cocoa and cider – the only thing that might have turned the evening around at that point.
Not every Christmas is perfect. Stories have come through my feed of families needing presents, families losing loved ones, and families estranged from one another. Those Christmases are hard and I’ve gone through my share of them. So, I grasped this moment of calm and savored it.
The next day, my sweet daughters joined us in bed for morning cuddles. We snuggled and watched the snow continue to fall outside. It was another sweet, peaceful moment. But, soon enough someone got pinched or pulled and it was time to move on to breakfast.
After we ate, it was time to open presents. I hoped the unicorns I spent way too much time searching for online were what each of my girls wanted. I desperately hoped there weren’t any fights about them between my older two. As each of them opened their gifts I felt such deep contentment watching them experience the wonder of Christmas.
Between the gifts they received from us and their grandmas, grandpas and aunt, our girls were well supplied. They immediately wanted to play with their toys – even Annie who’s only ten months. Their glee was contagious.
It felt like I’d prepared for a play: getting costumes together, giving stage direction and preparing the perfect props. Then Christmas morning everyone acted their part to perfection, in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. It was lovely to relinquish that control and trust that all the pieces would come together as they should.
We still had diapers to change, fights over certain toys, and a broken sled from a sledding misadventure. But, we also had some perfectly unscripted moments. Like my baby taking her first step in front of Great Grandma – in her new purple Batgirl dress, no less.
This is our first Christmas with all three girls and it’s probably our last with a baby. So, as those moments of contentment just kept rolling in I found myself oddly thankful for the hard Christmases. They are a reminder to cherish this time, take mental snapshots (along with real ones), and savor the sweetness of the holidays with littles.
What’s your favorite Christmas memory?