There is something magical about the pleasant glow of Christmas tree lights on my loved one's faces. I can't help but stop and stare whenever it catches my eye. Their eyes actually light up, and the soft, warm glow magnifies the beauty of all that it touches. (As if my children could get any more gorgeous in my eyes!) My favorite Christmas photographs are the ones where the twinkling white lights are sprinkled in bokeh effect across the background of whatever subject is in front of the camera. My husband bridged the light war in our home and found Christmas lights that can switch between colorful and white. I prefer the classically beautiful white, while the kids prefer the multi color lights. (I let them win, up until a few years ago.) I love starting my early mornings with a hot coffee in hand, the Christmas lights in the background. Ending a day with hot tea next to the tree makes (most of) my worries melt away. I thoroughly enjoy Christmastime. It fills my soul. The carols (O, Holy Night is my favorite) and music (Amy Grant's Christmas is playing on loop, sprinkled with the Christmas sounds of my favorite musicians. Also, having gone to high school in the 90s, N'Sync Christmas has to make an appearance at some point) can instantly put me in a nostalgic, giddy mood. The decorations of snow globes and Nutcrackers. The decades of memories hanging as ornaments on our tree. Our first home, Carson's first Christmas, Our first married Christmas, Jordan's first Christmas, Emmie's first Christmas, varying sizes of hand-print ornaments through the years, ornaments we have made together, and ornaments from our own childhood. Every year I dream about having a pretty tree, but soon shake that away with the thoughts of what would be left off of it. Like life, it may not be pretty in everyone's eyes, but it's mine. And, so very special.
I have tried this year to not put anything officially on the calendar in December unless it will be fun, and not stressful. This time of year passes by so quickly, and I want to make sure that we are all enjoying it, and not just going through the motions. Slowing down, breathing in the atmosphere, helping other people. That is what makes us remember why we celebrate Christmas. My mom would never let me write Merry Xmas on anything. As a child, my first thought was that it was just easier. A shortened version. Then she explained that it is taking the Christ out of Christmas. Without Christ, there is no Christmas. Merry Christmas should not be shortened.
Traditions are some of the best things about this time of year. The special memories you make with your family. Old ones you bring from each family, new ones you make together. We made an advent calendar with little boxes a few years ago instead of buying the pre-made ones each year. Then, I can place their favorite candies in it and we have the memory of making it together. We go see lights in a nearby town rightfully named Christmas town USA, which is pure magic to walk around in. On Christmas Eve we attend church, bake Jesus a birthday cake, take out clumps of dough and create cookies for Santa. I love their laughs when the cookie dough comes out of the oven looking like something completely different than when it went in. We open one present, pajamas. I love getting them special pajamas to open on Christmas Eve that have to do with whatever thing they are into that year. We watch whichever Christmas movie we hadn't made it to yet, snuggled up in our new pajamas, drinking hot apple cider or hot cocoa. The kids go to bed, and Bryan and I take a deep breathe and snuggle up on the couch for the last little bit of Christmas magic by the glow of the tree. The calm before the storm. The White Christmas (pun completely intended) is pure organized chaos. We wake the kids up at 5:30 am (yes, we wake them up so that we can get to all of our stops). But, not before I sneak downstairs to turn on our fire, have the music softly playing, turned on only enough lights for a sweet glow, pop the traditional cinnamon roll breakfast in the oven so it is filling the air with a sweet smell, and made everyone's hot chocolate so it can be cooling to the perfect temperature before we go wake them up. Even as they get older, they are still so excited to get up. Yes, even at 5:30. After we have our own sweet Christmas morning, we head to my mom and step-dads, then Bryan's dad's side of the family, followed by Bryan's mom's side of the family. We roll back up to our house around 9:30 pm. Long, exhausting, love filled day. We try to look at it as if the worst thing about the day is that we have too much family to see, then we can't really be upset about that. Especially since all of them are local. We are blessed. The kids are troopers and just know they have the whole next day to look forward to playing with their loot. In between houses we prep them with reminders like " you don't have to lie and say that you like it, just say thank you. It is still special that they thought of you to get you something, if you like it or not." or "you don't have to tell them you already have one, that means that they knew you enough to know you'd like it." And just like that, when it's all over and we are back home, we are already looking forward to the next Christmastime.