Christmas was very different when my kids were young. From the moment they sat in front of the television on Thanksgiving morning watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade waiting for Santa to sweep across the screen in his sleigh to Christmas morning when they woke my husband and me at five a.m. to see if Santa filled their stockings, life was magical.
Completely exhausting, insanely busy, a complete and utter blur, but magical.
There’s so many things I miss about those days.
I miss putting my kids to bed on Christmas Eve when they still believed in Santa. I miss having the entire family snuggle under the covers in bed while I read “The Night Before Christmas.”
I miss seeing them bursting with excitement wondering how they’d ever fall asleep and listening to them go on and on about how they hoped Santa will bring them the American Girl Doll, the Thomas the Train Set or the Chutes and Ladders game they so desperately wanted.
I miss watching them rush down the stairs in their matching plaid pajamas on Christmas morning, squealing in delight when they saw that Santa had eaten the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies they left out for him the night before and seeing them stand there with glistening eyes in total awe at the pile of wrapped presents stacked around the tree.
Those were precious, glorious moments. Memories I’ll always cherish in my heart.
For a time, I wished I could go back. I yearned for days gone by and I missed the magic that once filled our home. The sparkle, the wonder, the precious innocence that filled their hearts.
But then, I was given a fresh perspective.
Recently, on a rainy chilly night, my teenage son and I were sitting by a warm fire talking. While we were sitting there talking about nothing of particular importance – really just enjoying a fleeting special moment with him – I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. In fact, I’d been asking him for weeks and regardless of how many times I asked or how many suggestions I made, I couldn’t get an answer out of him.
“What about a new set of headphones or a new keyboard?” You said you’re tired of all your sweatshirts. What about a couple of new Under Armour or Adidas sweatshirts?”
Like always, I’d get the same answer. Just barely audible muttering under his breath. “I dunno… I’ll have to think about it.”
But, this time when I asked him, he had an answer. I could tell by the look on his face that clearly he had given it some thought. Staring into the fire with a warm blanket draped over his shoulders, he looked at me and said, “I have everything I want.”
His answer took my breath away. For a moment, I couldn’t find the words to respond. In his one brief answer, everything I felt about Christmas shifted. Like a light switch that went off in my head, it hit me…
Just because my kids are older and they don’t believe in Santa anymore doesn’t mean we lost the magic of Christmas. In fact, it’s because they’re older, that we found it.
For the first time since they were born, Christmas holds true meaning in my kids’ eyes.
They’ve come to realize that it’s not about the pile of wrapped presents around the tree. It’s not about spending loads of money on meaningless gifts that eventually find their way to the back of a closet to collect dust. It’s about experiences, spending time with family and friends, making memories and taking in and appreciating the little things during the Christmas season.
As much as I miss those days when my kids were young, Christmas in my home is better now that they’re teenagers. Underneath a cloak of presents and glitz, shopping and hype lie precious magical moments that matter.
Warm conversations sipping on hot cocoa with lots of tiny marshmallows. Heartfelt laughter as we watch the same Christmas shows we watched when they were young. True appreciation for the lights on the tree, the outside decorations and the cookies I baked especially for them. And, an inner peace and faith they will always carry with them when they reflect on Christmases past.
After giving more thought to my son’s honest and incisive answer, I leaned in, gave him a hug and thanked him.
I thanked him for reminding me how precious and memorable the past was, how beautiful the present is and how wonderful I know the future will be as my kids grow and mature. Mostly, I thanked him for reminding me to live in the here and now.
My time with my kids is fleeting. Soon enough they’ll be venturing off on their own, building a family, and making memories with their own children. In the meantime, I’m holding onto every precious, magical Christmas moment not only this year, but next year and every single year I’m so very blessed to have my family all together in our home.
The greatest gifts we will ever receive will never be found under a Christmas tree. They are far too valuable to be stored in any other place but in the depths of our heart.” ~ Anonymous