homegrown mama

::Where is the magic of Christmas?::

In family on 20112011-12-06T09:32:42+00:0031 9/11 at 09:32

Well, Christmas has officially snuck up on me. It’s already a week into December, and I’m only just starting to nestle into the nostalgia of Christmases past. You know, that feeling you get when Bing Crosby’s White Christmas streams from the stereo, the smell of gingerbread baking infuses your house, and children’s eyes twinkle at the sight of snow falling and presents under the tree.

Normal Rockwell: Homecoming

Even though my childhood Christmas seasons were inevitably rainy and green (or sometimes slushy and grey), they were still magical. I’d spend evenings drinking hot cocoa (with marshmallows, if I was lucky!) and reading in our formal living room, where the tree was always placed. It was special because we rarely used that room, which housed all my parents’ antique furniture, except when company was over. It was the one time of year it wasn’t odd to find one of us in there, enjoying the ambience of the lights and decorations, watching the rain fall outside the bay windows, or gently shaking the wrapped gifts for clues as to what they held.

But the older I got, the more clearly I remember my mom’s anxiety as December 1 approached. Once Remembrance Day was over, it seemed like the world was in a holding pattern, just waiting for the craziness of the Christmas season to begin a month before Christmas Day. I always wondered why she seemed put off by the “most wonderful time of the year”. But I’m beginning to understand. Most everyone has some warm and fuzzy childhood Christmas memories. And as a young adult, you gaily attempt to carry on with the magic, acting silly and doing fun things to celebrate the holidays. Usually, life’s responsibilities haven’t yet become a full load, and time off really is time off. But once you become “a real grown-up” (managing mortgages, making major life decisions, parenting, etc.) and you’re responsible for the fine details of Christmas—the list-making, the baking, the budgeting, the planning, the scheduling, the cooking, the hosting, and the wrapping—it certainly loses some of its appeal and specialness.

I think the farther we get from childhood, the more we realize how hard our parents worked to make Christmas special and magical and yummy and fun. This is the first year Christmas has loomed over me and made me long for the laziness and quiet (and leftovers!) of December 26. And I’m embarrassed to say this, because no matter how stressful the season gets, or how many expectations I put on myself, it should come back to receiving the grace given to me by the baby in the manger more than 2,000 years ago. But this year, I feel like I’ve let life get the best of me, and my priorities are out of place.

The first Christmas

As the weeks fill up with social engagements and my time at home becomes more precious while I wrap and bake and host, etc., I need to choose peace, choose love, and choose grace, not only with others, but also with myself. We cannot be all things to all people, and that’s ok. After all, that’s one of the great things about being a “real grown-up”: you begin to realize your limits, and you don’t feel so bad for implementing them.

So this year, as every December day attempts to overwhelm me, I’ll take a deep breath, say a little prayer of thanks, and enjoy every day with my family and friends for what it is, even if it isn’t the same as it was when I was a kid.

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