Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Getting into the Christmas spirit this year has been so easy for me. In years past, those years that were pre-having kids, yet post feeling like a kid myself, I had begun to view Christmas as just an unnecessary amount of stress and over-indulgence. I stressed about dragging out all the decorations only to shove them back in their bins a month later. I stressed about fighting the crowds at the mall and trying to find the perfect gifts for the people that are always impossible to shop for. I stressed about how consumerism and greed clouded the story of Jesus' birth and how the quiet wonderment of the manger was drowned out in the hustle-bustle of rushing from one activity to the next unendingly. I guess I had become somewhat of a scrooge in many ways. I was going through the motions with a smile on my face but deep down it all seemed really quite pointless.

And then I had kids. And like so many things tend to do when you're a parent, my whole view of Christmas has changed. And I'm sure a lot of it is the age that Eli is this year being 2, almost 3 years old, and having Norah as well now. Suddenly, the magic of the holiday is back. Suddenly I can't wait to get the tree put up and hang the garland and fire up the Christmas music. Watching Eli as he runs downstairs to turn on the tree lights and shrieks with joy when he realizes that a stocking has his name on it and sitting on Santa's lap for the first time, and shouting as he points out all the "Christmas" houses lit up at night in the neighborhood, and belting out Go Tell It On The Mountain from the backseat is so refreshing. Listening to him tell us about Mary and Joseph and Jesus' birth on the way home from church each Sunday is precious. Knowing that he is at the beginning ages of being able to implement special family traditions that he will begin to look forward  to and depend on each coming year is exciting to me. Hearing his answers to Santa and others who have asked him "What do you want for Christmas" makes me want to cling to his innocence and bottle him up when he replies with things like "snow" and "snowmen" and "snow globes" He is too young to be caught up in the "gimmies" of Christmas, and yet perfectly old enough to take in all the wonder of the season.  I know this is a short phase and I'm sure in a couple quick years my children will be handing me long lists of the "I wants" for Christmas. So this year, I am trying not to miss a single moment. I have come to realize that it is completely possible and perfectly OK to be taken in by the magic and beauty of Christmas, while still keeping our focus on the real reason that we celebrate this season. It is about the baby that was born into poverty, that grew up to die a death He did not deserve, to save us from a debt we could not afford to pay. That is the gift that I am most thankful for this year.

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