As a child, Christmastime was always a huge deal in our home. For starters, my mother has a fabulously festive personality; she is easily excitable and wears a naturally giving aura, which makes for quite the holiday spirit when the time comes. I am the eldest of three girls, so, as such, I received the pleasure of being able to closely study my mom as her “next in line,” not just at Christmastime, but all year, but especially at Christmastime.
She would begin her heavy-duty shopping in November, flitting from store to store with lists of gifts in hand, putting certain items on layaway to pick up later, purchasing many presents outright for family and close friends and Pollyanna parties and white elephant exchanges at work. My mom was employed in our city’s public school system; that had a lot to do with the joy she always seemed to emit. Other kids were usually pretty drawn to her, as were, honestly, most adults.
My mom emphasized the importance of rewarding our A’s and B’s by expressing what we desired during the time reserved for our greatest rejoice. Simultaneously, we were all involved in activities that highlighted community service and giving back: we donated outgrown clothing and household goods often to the Purple Heart Foundation; we’d choose a family from an “Angel Tree” to assist; our ballet classes and cheerleading squads volunteered time, energy, and resources with her chaperoning leadership.
Her beautiful, blissful mystique radiated throughout our home warmly during the holiday season. She would instruct our dad to rescue the Christmas tree from the attic and we’d spend an evening watching a movie and decorating it while dad installed icicle lights on the front of the house and faux candles in the windows. There were many conversations about Santa Claus; she encouraged leaving him cookies to help power Santa through his lengthy trip. Equally, we discussed, at length, the “reason for the season” and what Christianity meant and what “reborn” truly required. We sat together and watched long biblical tales on television on Christmas Day and attended Watchnight services at church to ring in new years. There was always a lot of laughter.
I understood her celebration, her glory, and her “now.” I later recognized her dedication to witnessing happiness in others. I inherited her merriment and goodwill.
It stayed with me. All of it…all that my mother had planted and simmered.
Now, I am her.
With my husband and two children, I house the beginnings of traditions I knew as a child, such as cookies on Christmas Eve and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” infused with those introduced by my hubs and those that will surface as our kids age. I attempt to lift a feeling of elation in those I meet year-round by harvesting and generating the cheer I perceive deepest at Christmas. My revelries are different from my mother’s because I am a mother in a different time; however, wonderment is universal. Grateful blessedness is poignant.
At Christmas, I get to re-stir my pot as I am reminded of why I was born. I waft the seasonings from my efforts throughout my next year. Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I look at the two little faces of my children and am reminded of my own while younger, full of questions and hope and awe. I answer those questions, fan that hope, and enable that reverence. What’s more, I am honored to pass the magic and the enchantment and the promise of life, proven to me some time ago, to them.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my dear friends. Enjoy yourself and enjoy one another.
Photo courtesy of Jrue (4) and Jai (20mo), in a box, on Christmas Eve 2017.