One of the best parts of the Christmas season with kids, is passing down the traditions and stories and nuances of our own childhood Christmas memories, while continuing, and making, our own new ones each year, hoping one day to have provided memories the kids will treasure and continue the cycle.
Something I noticed this year that I do exactly like my mom did is, I unbox one ornament at a time, we oooh and ahhh over it, the kids ask me where it came from so the brief history is given, then they take turns hanging them on the tree. The glass, and more precious ornaments are put on the upper third of the tree by Scott or myself, and the lower two thirds we redecorate after bedtime for spacing purposes. I love this process. I love that they are as excited as I am with each box that opens with ornaments that range from both of our childhoods, handmade, baby's first's for all four of them, and family groups of penguins and polar bears that grew each year as our family continued to grow.
It is such a fun and exciting time as the whole atmosphere seems to change into a world of wonder and joy. Every box of decorations brings exclamations of "I remember this! This one is my favorite! Mom, where can I put this one?!" It's a catching kind of excitement that really puts their youth into perspective. They aren't too tired to decorate at the end of a day, nor do they care about the mess the styrofoam makes as we unbox each village piece. They don't care if the snowmen are set in just the right place or if the stockings are hung in the right order. Their enthusiasm just can't be contained and at this time of the year, I'm much more tolerant of it then most.
I love that they watch Polar Express and the Grinch about six times the first four days after unboxing the Christmas movies and that the song "Hot Chocolate" (oh we got it! yeah we got it! ) plays on a loop in my head for the entire month. I love that they turn the Christmas tree lights on as soon as they are out of bed and search for our elf, Winkle, in their undies. I love that our counters get sticky with candy cane drool and that their super hero and princess cocoa mugs grace the counters multiple times a week. I love that we have to hot glue baby Jesus back in his manger in front of praying Santa almost every year, because the kids won't keep their hands off of him. I love that every time I sing O Holy Night, they look at me with eyes reminiscent of when they were a baby and I held them as they ate. Those eyes that seem to say,
I know you are special, I know you love me, I know you will always love me and that I will always love you. I know that with you, I am safe.
I love that I still see that in their eyes when they look at me as I sing to them. And I love the debate of whether or not every Santa they see is the real one or one of his helpers!
I love these things for so many reasons, but the driving motivation to embrace the craziness, for me, is that I know this time will be gone before I know it. They will all too soon lose the wonder of the Polar Express and Winkle. They might enjoy candy canes and cocoa for a while, but will no longer need me to clean up as they go, or to "add more mallows". And probably much sooner than I'd like, they'll realize I don't sing well and be less than impressed by my rendition of my favorite Christmas song, and the truth of Santa will temporarily dash their young dreams.
Fortunately, we also focus our hearts and minds on the truth behind this time of year. We know and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We pack boxes with scripture and prayers, toys, toiletries and supplies to send to children in parts of the world and in living conditions my kids cannot begin to fathom actually exist. It's a growing and learning process, but we hope to teach our kids that the greatest part of the Christmas season is not Santa or his elves, it's not presents or lights, but it is Jesus. That's what makes this time of year amazing. "Oh night, divine, when Christ was born."
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
May you know the hope that rests in knowing Him this Christmas season. From our house to yours,