December 20, 2012

The Magic of Christmas

I really am so excited for Christmas this year.
The year we got married I made sure that Christmas was a huge deal.
I was working full-time and Josh had two jobs so we had a lot of extra money that we were able to buy each other gifts with. 
I spent weeks picking out and buying gifts for Josh and I made sure he had plenty of things to open on Christmas morning. 
It was my first Christmas as a wife and I felt like I had to just make it so big and memorable.
It was definitely fun spoiling each other but looking back is not something I would do again.
Even though I put a lot of thought into the things I got and he loved everything, it just was a little bit over-the-top. I don't think we would even remember what we got each other now if we didn't have pictures.

Then, last Christmas was so different. I wasn't working and Josh was only making enough money to cover bills. 
We barely even had money to buy a Christmas Tree. 
We weren't able to get each other any gifts - not a single one.
It was sad and depressing.
I kept reading blogs about all these beautiful and abundant Christmas morning's that everyone had and it was really hard for me. 
We got a lot of gifts from family on Christmas Eve and at my parents house, but when Josh and I woke up on Christmas morning it was empty under the tree.
I'm not someone who is obsessed with material things, but when it comes to Christmas I need to feel the magic.
 Now, looking back I wish I hadn't have let it bother me so much - it was so trivial. 

This year is different from both of the previous Christmases.
About a month ago my dad called one night and told me that I had some money that I had forgotten about and he wanted to remind me of it. He wanted to see if I wanted him to keep holding on to it or if I wanted to take it. Josh and I were in the store when my dad called and I literally just started weeping (and then jumping up and down) when he told me. I had been praying for some kind of miracle so that we could have a nice Christmas...even if it was just so that I could get Josh and Viv one or two things. 
So, I thought about it and talked with Josh about what we should do with the money. If we should just pay bills with it, keep saving it, or have a nice Christmas. We talked and since we had December's bills covered Josh said we would be fine and didn't need it for bills. We have a pretty good system for paying the bills and never are late...our problem is that we just don't have any money left *after* paying the bills. 
Anyway, we decided that since I had been saving and waiting for this money for years that I should be the one to decided how to use it or save it.
So, this is how I decided to use the money:
Save some.
Use some toward bills so that we had a little extra money when we needed some.
Use the rest on gifts.
Now, it wasn't a lot of money, but to me it felt like a fortune!

So, over the past few weeks I've been making and buying gifts for everyone in the family.
I even made all of my cousins a little something! 
I put all of my thought and love into what we would get for each member of the family.
I didn't splurge and I didn't buy things just to buy things.
I really thought about each item and each person and it was such a special time for me.
I feel great that I didn't spend a lot of money but that I was able to spend enough so that I could bless each member of the family with some special things that they will remember.
This Christmas feels extra special because it's so filled with love and not filled with an obsession over material possessions.
I can hardly wait for us give out our gifts and for Josh and Viv to wake up on Christmas morning! 

Anyway, all of that was just to get to this part of the post:

All growing up my brothers and I would be excited all year for Christmas time to come.
My mom made this holiday spectacular every single year.
When we lived in our first house (where I mostly grew up) we had cathedral ceilings in our living room.
Now, I probably remember this room being a whole lot larger than it actually is since I was young, but I know that it was really a large room.
So, every year we would go out into the woods at my grandma's house and my mom would spend hours picking out the perfect Christmas Tree. All my brothers and I were pretty young and there was always a few feet of snow on the ground, so this particular part of Christmas wasn't our most favorite. After my mom found her perfect tree my dad would cut it down and we would bring it home. These trees were about 20 feet tall and at least 8 feet wide or more - huge, monstrous trees! My mom would bring up dozens of bins and boxes of ornaments and decorations up from the basement and my dad would get his full-length ladder from the garage and start with the lights. 
I remember being in my pajamas and sifting through hundreds and hundreds of ornaments with my mom. She would tell me the story for each ornament and we would add them to the tree. Mom would stay up decorating the house with all the finest details of the holiday.
Garlands on the stairs' banister, nativities secretly placed all around on shelves and wreaths hanging on doors. 
My mom is the queen of Christmas decorating.  

Every year on Christmas Eve my brothers and I would each get two gifts to open: one was new pajamas and the other was a special ornament. Mom always picked out an ornament that had something to do with our year. Sometimes it would be a favorite animal from that year, a hobby that we started, or just something she knew we would love. 
She still does the ornaments for us and they're still just as special.
After we opened our two gifts my younger brothers and I always left milk and cookies out for Santa.
Even though we grew up in a strong Christian house and Christ was always the center, our parents still gave us the magic of Santa. I think I knew at a young age that he wasn't real, but that didn't matter, it was the magic of the thoughts and traditions that came along with believing in him brought. It was the real story of Saint Nicholas that I believed in - so it as still fun to pretend that Santa really did come on Christmas night.
We would go to bed that night with flutters in our hearts because we knew that when we woke up the next morning there would be magic everywhere. 

After we were all in bed on Christmas Eve night my mom would stay up late into the night wrapping gifts and arranging them perfectly under the tree (I know this because after I got older I started staying up late with her wrapping gifts for my brothers and talking). Mom put every ounce of her love into wrapping and arranging those gifts.
 Every crease and fold in the wrapping paper was (and still is) perfect.
On Christmas morning I always remember running in to wake my brothers up so we could all run to see what was under the tree. 
We would run to the living room and just stand with sparkles in our eyes looking at what "Santa" had brought us this year. We would go around looking at all the gifts looking for our names - but never touching any of the presents because we wanted Mom and Dad to enjoy them too. We would go get my parents and they would come to the living room and be just as in awe as we were (more in awe of the joy in the hearts and eyes of their children). My mom would get out her camera and my dad would set up the video camera. We would all line up on the couch and Mom would give us all our stockings.
My favorite part about our Christmas mornings were our stockings. I think I grew up thinking that the best thing about my mom was how she made them so perfect. 
We would always have an orange, some candy, and lots of little toys and things we just loved. Every tiny gift was just what we wanted. In my stocking I always had girly things for my hair and chapstick, things with princesses, or tiny trinkets for the shelves of my bedroom. It always amazed me how many things were able to fit in those small stockings. 
After that we would go around handing out gifts to each other and taking turns opening them. Each one was just as big of a surprise as the next. The whole process took a few hours and as kids, we just wanted to rip every thing open all at once but we always had to take turns - one by one.
Christmas evening all of our extended family would come over to open more gifts and my mom would make a huge dinner. I always remember playing with all the cousins for hours and talking about all our new toys.

Over the past few years Mom always kept Christmas pretty much the same.
We moved to a smaller house when I was a teenager so our tree's went from monstrous to normal sized.
My oldest brother moved away and got married.
I moved out of the house and got married.
And now all my younger brothers are teenagers.
So, things aren't as "fun" as when we were all kids.
No more bright toys or using our imaginations all day long.
But it's funny, because now this year it's like my childhood Christmas is coming back to us.
Now we have Viv, a tiny young soul filled with wonder and joy.
A little person to take in all of the magic of Christmas - so innocently.
A new child to play with toys and imagine and dream.
A new heart to be thankful and happy.

Christmas to me isn't about the gifts.
I was raised in a family that was able to bless their children with new, fun things and I'm thankful for that blessing.
But to me Christmas is about the magic that fills the air and fills the souls.
I remember every detail of every Christmas morning of my childhood because my parents made sure that there was joy in every detail.
Christmas for me is about the love that is so strong between family.
I am so thankful that I had four brothers to spend Christmas morning with every year.
I am so thankful that I had two wonderful parents.
I am thankful for the details.
For the lights, for the smells, for the people.
For the innocence that my parents put in my heart.
For the imagination and wonder that was instilled in me that I can pass on to my children.
I'm thankful that in the past few years my family has more than doubled in size.
My in-law side of our family is beautiful and I love that my kids are going to grow up with them in their lives.

So, this year is my first year that I'm going to pass on to my child the magic that my parents gave to me.
We all have new pajamas and ornaments to open on Christmas Eve, and stories to read under the tree about Santa and Jesus' birth.
I'm going to make a special breakfast and video every moment from the time Viv wakes up on Christmas morning.
We don't need a lot of gifts or money to enjoy the Christmas holiday.
I am thankful that I have a family to spend this time with, to laugh with, and to love.
I treasure these days and these memories. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so lovely, what a pleasure to read..i got both Christmas goosebumps and inspiration :)