I recall nearly everything about Christmas from childhood. Which is hilarious, because if you ask anyone, I can remember next to nothing from childhood. I cannot tell you what presents I opened, but I can tell you everything you need to know about a typical Christmas growing up in our home.
I remember how our mom hung our stockings on the wooden banister. How she would place branches of dried eucalyptus in the already fragrant Christmas tree. Eucalyptus still evokes Christmas memories for me to this day. I remember my Dad’s customers sending home copious amounts of treats and candies for the holiday. My favorite, every year like clockwork, a mason jar full of homemade hard candy. So many different colors and flavors, like Christmas lights in a jar. The lid wrapped with a simple ribbon. I remember how they tasted and how I knew Christmas had to be close when that jar of homemade hard candy appeared. I recall the one Christmas Eve service, our candles lit and singing Silent Night, only for my Dad to nudge my arm to look outside. It had started to snow. Big flakes, softly falling as our voices sang out. The nudge would follow it’s way down the line of siblings as we all experienced what we always wanted – a white Christmas. The car ride to look at Christmas lights as the snow continued to fall. The way the air touched our cheeks as we rushed out of the warm, full church. My bedroom, always decorated for Christmas. The anticipation of Santa Claus. Mom’s big Christmas Eve feast with champagne glasses full of sparkling cider. And then Christmas day full of A Christmas Story on repeat, new toys, and laying around our house all day with nowhere to go. Nowhere to be. No one expecting us to show up.
My memories of Christmas and tradition are rooted firmly in my brain, and for the past 15 years, I’ve missed those traditions. Whether it be that they faded away when our parents divorced or remarried. Or my husband was deployed, yet again. Or that we were in the middle of nowhere, thousands of miles away from our families. Having grandparents die just a few months before. Whatever the reason, somehow, someway, Christmas was lost for me.
Sure, I loved the season. I counted down. But over the years I’ve found myself counting down to the reasons or things surrounding Christmas. My husband having the day off of work as an example. Or being able to get “peppermint everything” for two months straight.
As an adult, Christmas is a little different. You’re in charge of the magic. How much, or how little, you allow yourself and your children to feel. I’m not speaking of Santa Claus, but the actual magic and celebration of Christmas. Even now, 65 days away, I feel as though I’m still longing to be back in that house on Moore Street in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. My six siblings around me. A jar of homemade hard candy in my lap. Snow falling as Silent Night plays. At 29, I’m counting down to a memory – which realistically is impossible. And it is funny, because when I find myself having these thoughts I think about my children’s favorite movie “of all time;” Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! Linus, standing up and calling down the Truth and the Gospel. Putting that ole Charlie Brown into the right state of mind. I still get teary eyed when he drops that blankie and quotes those verses with gusto and zero fear. I know, I know. Teary eyed over a cartoon? Absolutely.
I guess I need a Linus moment in my life.
You may be in my situation. In fact, I imagine a lot of you are. You may wrestle within yourself. “Christmas isn’t about the presents and the treats and the magic – it’s about the birth of Christ. I’m just being selfish.” Trust me! I’ve been there. For the past eight years I have sat in that filth and that argument and turmoil within myself. I even got to the point last year that I just believed Christmas was for kids and it was all a joke put on by our parents for decades until we grew up and realized it’s not that big of a deal.
My insides still twist at the thought of that. Lump in throat kind of sad. In a way, I’ve been mourning Christmas. My favorite time of year became … well … lousy.
So for the past few months I’ve been looking inward. After the holidays last year my sisters and I were texting back and forth. (Here come the tears…) I finally broke open the wormcan and said, “Did anyone else think Christmas absolutely sucked this year?” They all said yes. Now let me tell you guys, we know where our grandparents are and we wouldn’t wish them back to earth for even a minute. But it was pretty emotionally draining to lose them so close to one another, and only weeks before the holiday season kicked off. My husband was deployed yet again. Money was tight.
I wished away the entire day.
And when it all settled down, and I said it out loud, it was nice to hear back … “No, it sucked for me too.” So we all decided, hey … let’s not let the next one suck. Because we freaking love Christmas. What happened to us?
I freaking love Christmas. But the Christmas I was in love with is gone. Buried by divorce, remarriage, new family members, our own marriages and new families, distance, … adulthood. So I posed this question to myself – I know WHY we celebrate Christmas (Jesus, hello…) but HOW do I want to celebrate Christmas in my family? How do I restore that hygge (hu-gah) within my home? I know the why, but what about the how?
And as with most things … simplify is the answer.
So while Halloween is not even here yet. The Thanksgiving turkey not yet prepared. I want you to look at that big scary calendar and note that as of right now – there are only 65 days between now and Christmas. If you’re like me, 35 days until you put up your Christmas tree. And that isn’t a lot of time.
I’ll unpack this in another upcoming post. Here is where I stand right now, and what our family will be doing this year to not only simplify our Christmas, but bring back the hygge, the meaning, the comfort, the magic of this Holiday. Here’s some of our How.
- 7 Gift Christmas.
– Something They Want
– Something They Need
– Something To Wear
– Something To Read
– Something To Do
– Something For The Family
– Santa Gift
- Jesse Tree Advent Ornament Tree
- Letting kids decorate their rooms
- Vintage Traditions
– Hard Candy making
– Homemade ornament
– More colored lights
- Hygge, coziness, graciousness.
- Acts of Kindness
– Gift for mailman
– Cookie tins for neighbors
– Locate family in need within squadron and purchase Christmas dinner items for them
– Toys for Tots donations
– Opening home to single Marines who aren’t able to go home for the holidays
– “Pay it Forward” moments – leaving behind prepaid gift cards at Starbucks and Chickfila. Busy mom hotspots – where a free meal or hot beverage could turn a hectic day around.
- Looking inward to put my heart in check.
Want to join me? Comment below. I want to hear what Christmas as an adult has been like for you. Are you in the same boat as me? Mourning your Christmas past and not really doing anything with Christmas present?
We can change this … let’s do that.