^Dr. Seuss, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
I have always loved the Christmas season. I remember from a very young age sitting in the floor with my mom as she pulled out our treasures. There was the little manger scene with the tiny baby Jesus. My ornament from my first Christmas, with a tiny little baby and my birthday engraved. We have a Rudolph that has to be assembled every year, and has stood guard by the tree holding a variety of treasures: bows, pinecones, and one special year a puppy. I never got tired of laying on the floor under the tree and watching the lights twinkle. That was one place where magic could be seen.
Growing up in a small-town, country church I played every part in the Nativity. From a sheep to Mary holding my favorite baby doll, and Angel and caroler, I did the part. The songs of Christmas are my favorites, and the only thing I can still play on the piano after 6 long years of lessons (sorry, Mom.) Nothing feels more spiritual to me than a Christmas Eve candle-lit service with my family in our church home. I get goosebumps thinking about it.
I moved into my own first home the year Parker was a baby. I was a Martha Stewart wannabe (pre-prison) that kept Hobby Lobby in business. I collected village scenes, made snowflake curtains for all of my windows, had linens for the beds and throw pillows for the living room. Christmas music played around the clock. There was always (at least the smell of) cookies baking and cider warming. My home was especially home-y at the Christmas season.
Traditions became especially important for us to establish for our son. A schedule for when the decorations could go up and when they had to come down. We had rules for putting the star on the tree. Routines for opening an advent each day. Readings that were planned and purposeful. And my favorite, exchanging one special ornament on Christmas Eve, a way to forever document an important time or experience of the year past. These traditions were important to me. I wanted my children to grow up and know that when they came home, it would FEEL like Christmas. I wanted something to pass on to them in their homes so that there would always be a connection between how the season felt when they were growing up, and to have their fond memories etched so deeply they would recreate them for posterity.
Since then, my home has changed. My family has changed. God has blessed us in so many ways. and in all of these changes, I lost my Christmas spirit.
I have thrown myself into chairing our county Angel Tree project for the last 3 years. Because I have been so busy bringing Christmas to other children, I told myself my kids would learn about giving. We didn't have time for all of our to-do.
And my kids are little. I mean, I have all of those extra-special ornaments, why would I put them out for the kids to break?
And because we are hunting and camping and traveling through the time when I would normally take my stuff out. And because work is busy. And because I am in school. And because I have to finish laundry. And...
So last year I took Parker and Kaden to Wal-Mart and let them buy one of those pre-lit trees and pick their own ornaments. We didn't pull out our snow globe collection or our stockings. They were happy to decorate and proud of their creation.
Today I was at my Mom's house, and she pulled out a pink tree that she had bought for Maddie's room. I was putting it into the van and jokingly asked her if I could just put it up and call my Christmas decorating done. She didn't crack a smile and Parker informed me we could not have just a pink tree. I think it was then that maximum Bah-humbug guilt set in.
I am looking. I am desperate to find that will to put those special touches back into the holidays for my kids. We have been so diligent in talking about the season as the celebration of the birth of our Savior. I just haven't shown them the magic in celebration.
So I am going to get out my tree and special ornaments. And we will hang stockings and watch the snow fall on the manger. And we will cuddle on the floor with hot chocolate and watch the lights twinkle. Because that is what we do in my family. It is what I want my kids to remember. And it is what I know I will love again as soon as we do it and I see the sparkle in their eyes.
I am looking for my twinkle. Because I want to see them sparkle.