As Christmas quickly approaches, we all feel the rush to get the gifts bought and wrapped. Ours are bought and wrapped and secured. We still hide them even though our Santa days are now gone. It was crushing last year when the baby of the family finally realized that this was it. That mom and dad were the givers.
I can remember, as a kid, my mom giving me the Sears catalog to go through (this thing was about 500 pages or more) and I would spend hours upon hours circling everything I wanted. The baby dolls and everything you could possibly want to pretend you were a real mom, the little motorized car with a real key…. My mom must have chuckled every time I handed it back to her with the pages all wrinkled from being pored over and dog-eared with all the things I wanted Santa to bring to me. I was so hopeful for the 1000 things circled in there.
For 24 years I have had the pleasure, the responsibility and excitement of curating the perfect presents for MY children (some things from their lists and some that were just surprises), ensuring that the gifts were beautifully wrapped and hidden, the tags said “Love, Santa” on them and that they would “magically” appear. So, even though it’s not necessary, I still hide them.
I have some children that have been known to snoop. I can’t blame them. I was a snoop, too. When I was a kid I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning. I could barely sleep. When I was 9, my mom had put some presents from my grandparents out early under the tree just begging to be shaken and squished and pondered upon. They sat there for days. One day I couldn’t take it anymore. While she was busy doing something else, I meticulously unwrapped a few of the gifts, looked at them and then meticulously wrapped them up again. I was so sneaky!! And I ruined all of the surprise and was disappointed. I don’t want to tempt my kids so I leave them hidden until Christmas Eve. The anticipation is still there even though Santa isn’t.
This year is very different. Some of our kids have moved out. We no longer get a picture with Santa and tell him all of the amazing things we want. We don’t use the dreaded “naughty list” as a small threat for good behavior. When Ella, our Elf on a shelf, wasn’t magic anymore it broke my heart. Kind of. I mean, I made the mistake of making Ella come on Thanksgiving night and she was really cool and loved to do really cool things. But, then Ella had to consistently be cool and do really cool things. She couldn’t sit on the shelf like the other elves. No. She had to do AMAZING things. For Four.Weeks.Every.Year. And I did that to myself (consider this advice from me when it comes to introducing the Elf). But, none the less, I miss the joy that Ella brought to my little girl and the fun of coming up with new things for Ella to do.
The magic of Christmas is still here. The same sweet music plays through the house and the same Christmas movies play on repeat. We still laugh at the same things in every one of them and will reference them throughout the year. We tried the tree in a different spot this year. We are still getting used to it. We adorn the tree with the same ornaments that we have collected over the years and still comment on every one of them. Memories.
The family loves the familiar smells that come with the season. The pumpkin bread that they can’t get enough of, the Christmas Cookie candle I love to burn at all hours of the day, the baked coffee cake for Christmas morning. It makes me sad that there is so much anticipation for the big day and then, just like that, December 26th comes and behaves as if nothing ever happened. And the craft stores start to put out Valentine’s decorations!
This year our oldest daughter got married and they are living on their own, making their own memories, decorating their own tree. Our second daughter has graduated from Purdue and is embarking on a new life outside of the too many years of school. The kids all run in different directions. My husband and I often find ourselves alone in the house. But not at Christmas time. (Cue the Charlie Brown song.)
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of year
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share
And joyful memories there