I love thinking about how exciting Christmas was when I was a little girl. I also love remembering my daughter’s excitement leading up to Christmas…and Christmas morning…wow! There’s nothing else like it. It’s magical. Even if you stayed up till 2am putting together toys, it’s magical. Even if you stayed up all night with a sick child, it’s magical. Even if you had to search frantically for all the gifts, it’s magical. Seeing your child’s face on Christmas morning is magical.
Ten days till Christmas!
And kids have no idea how much goes on behind the scenes. They couldn’t even begin to fathom all we do in preparation for the holidays. They wouldn’t believe how much prep work goes into that “magic.”
Most of my purchasing is done this year, so I’ve been spending the last few days wrapping gifts…and wrapping gifts…and wrapping gifts. That sounds like it has been drudgery, but I have loved every minute of it.
Last year, on December 30, I lost my mom. And while I’ve dreaded this Christmas and the approaching one year mark, I’ve told myself I’m going to find joy in everything about the holiday.
My husband put up the tree and some of the decorations while my daughter and I were away a few weeks ago. We came home and found the tree waiting for us, poinsettias in the foyer and living room, our light-up animals on the front steps, and my glorious leg lamp in the dining room window. Fra-gil-e! It’s a major award! My husband had shared a little joy by surprising us.
Then Christmas cards started arriving…more joy from friends and family, near and far! I love Christmas cards.
Even though my husband put up the tree, he didn’t decorate it. I got out all the ornaments and decorated it recently, surprising our daughter with lots of ornaments from her childhood. There are ornaments my mother gave us, and I smiled every time I hung one. There were two ornaments left on the tree from last year…cardinals. My mother always said when cardinals come around, they are loved ones we have lost making a visit. I was thrilled to find those two cardinals on the tree. And there were lots of owl ornaments. I don’t remember buying them, but there are lots of them. After three or four, I wondered if they had any significance.
I’ve purchased gifts from links our teenage daughter has texted us. And I’ve added a few surprises for her too, to give her a little extra joy…and to make it seem a little magical. I know Christmas isn’t about the gifts, but we didn’t have much of a Christmas last year, since Mother fell on Christmas Eve and was admitted to the hospital. I’ve purchased lots of gifts, in fact. And I’ve been doing lots of gift wrapping.
Gift wrapping was always something I dreaded, but this year is different. This year, I’ve found gift wrapping (and making gigantic bows!) to be therapeutic, and since it’s our first year without Mother, I’ve needed the therapy. Of course, I’m sad she’s not here to talk on the phone with me while I’m wrapping, but it has still calmed me. It has been downright joyful to wrap gifts, because the busy work relaxes my mind.
And those owl ornaments? Well, last night, I was searching for a necklace my mother gave me, and I came across a charm bracelet I brought home from her house after she died. I had never seen it before she died, but I found it in a jewelry box at her house. I picked it up last night and looked at all the charms. There’s a tricycle…I have pictures of her on a tricycle as a little girl. There’s a nurse’s cap….she was a nurse. There are lots of charms, including a sunflower, which was her favorite and Daddy’s too. And there were two owls. I smiled. I had my answer about the significance of the owl ornaments. They were somehow special to Mother. I don’t know how, but that doesn’t matter. I made a connection.
I’m going to be joyful this holiday season. It’s my goal. And so far, I am. There have been a few tears, but I feel like these little signs…the cardinals, the owls…are telling me to be happy, so that’s what I’m going to do. Mother used to always say that if you decide to be happy, you’ll be happy. I’ve decided to be happy.
Anybody have any gifts that need to be wrapped?