I love Christmas: the traditions, the decorations, the scents, and the general feeling of cheer that emerges all around.
For my family, the holiday season begins with a trip to the tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition we began over twenty years ago, when my sons were toddlers. I have so many fond memories of snowball battles, playing hide-and-seek, and chasing the dog as we spent hours searching for the perfect tree.
Our trip always ended with giant mugs of hot chocolate to warm us from our time out in the cold.
Later that evening we’d decorate the tree as a family while listening to Christmas music. After our sons were in bed, my husband and I would snuggle together on the couch to watch White Christmas by the light of the tree.
My sons are grown and living out of state now, but we still manage to keep the tradition alive to some degree . . . usually with the aid of modern technology.
Christmas is also the only time of the year that my house is actually decorated—it’s something I’ve never acquired a knack for, so I usually settle for more of a minimalistic approach. Every year I look forward to unpacking one special box. It contains my favorite collection affectionately named The Snowman Family by my family. I’ve amassed quite a collection of the adorable little guys over the years, and seeing them always makes me smile.
But . . . as much as I love my snowmen, my most prized decoration is a gift my sons made for me when they were eleven and nine—a wooden Santa, personalized with our names and the year. They secretly dug into my hobby supplies and tools (not the power tools, thankfully) and followed the steps they’d learned from watching me . . . it really touched me, because I never realized how closely they paid attention to what I did and enjoyed.
To my eyes, their creation is perfect and well deserving of the most prominent spot at the center of the mantle, where it has sat every year since. It is a gift from their hearts and made with love.
This time of year can become rather stressful though, as I’m sure you already know. There is so much that needs to be done. Besides all the decorating, there’s shopping, and wrapping.
And don’t forget about the cookies! Gotta bake cookies for Santa . . . and my sons.
There are holiday get-togethers with friends and parties with co-workers.
And . . . of course, all of this merriment takes a lot of time. That’s a big bite out of the already insufficient time available for writing. Trying to resist it is useless—and ignoring it doesn’t work either—so I’ve given in to the holiday spirit and put writing on hold until after Christmas.
As I sit writing this post by the light of the tree, in a room filled with the warm scent of cinnamon candles, I think back over Christmases gone by—some from my childhood, but mostly of my years as a parent.
I can hear the laughter and excitement of my sons as they discovered their gifts under the tree.
I remember the years with our crazy dog, who tried to sneak downstairs for his toys more than our sons did.
And I feel the absence of loved ones who are no longer with us, but their spirits live on in my heart.
I have one wish for Christmas, and it almost didn’t come true . . . I can’t wait to have my sons back home and my family together, even if only for a few precious hours. They are the greatest gifts of my life.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness. —CJ