If I was ever asked what my most favorite childhood memory around the holidays was, I would hands- down have to say it was the calm after the storm that was Christmas morning. Being an Army brat, we didn’t live anywhere near our extended family. With a 12 hour car drive and 4 states separating our unit of 4 from all of our extended family, my parents made me best decision they could for their mental health, their wallet, and most importantly, their children.
I recall each Christmas Eve as if it were yesterday. My sister and I would always have a “sleepover” in one of our bedrooms in fear that if Santa came to peek on in us to ensure we were sleeping, at least we had each other! Somehow we had convinced ourselves while the plump jolly old man was bringing a sack full of gifts, he might just be a little intimidating too and there was strength in numbers. We would stay up too late giggling and anticipating the next day’s events and eventually drift off to sleep as we awaited the noise of hooves on our rooftop.
The next morning (after our mom made us anxiously wait in her room as she did her hair and makeup, because God forbid there be a Christmas morning photo without perfect curls and a fresh face) we would stampede into the living room to see what allSanta had delivered. We would gasp, jump, and do that insanely high pitched scream that only little girls can master in excitement! Our parents would sit back, drinking coffee, giving the grin of a job well done to one another. (All the while, I’m 99% sure my dad was just as surprised about our gifts as we were…. thanks mom!) We would play and share our gifts with one another and eventually end up in the kitchen for our traditional ham biscuits and orange juice followed by continual playing in the rummage that once was our tidy living room.
This was living. And this is what a cherish and remember the most. If I reflect back on happiness, these are the memories I find it in.
That was no urgency to cleanup. No hustle and bustle to get to the next house. And no need for my mom to excuse herself from the fun to begin cooking a dish to take to the next gathering. It was just the four of us, soaking in the season, our time together, and the joy that Christmas truly brings. This was where I saw true love within our family and genuine unity. It wasn’t over the perfectly wrapped gifts or the ham glazed to perfection.
Instead, it was about being present with one another and being together. We celebrated. And loved on another. We were a true family, living.
Now, Holiday Anxiety
As a mother now and living closer to extended family, this dynamic has changed. While I adore the holiday season, I always get anxiety when the “big day” approaches. Who is coming over? Whose house do I need to go to? What dishes do I need to cook? The once joyful holiday has become a to do list and I was dragging my child along the way. Don’t get me wrong, we love celebrating with our family, but there is only so much you can do in 24 hours!
Finally, I put my foot down. And learned to say no. I vowed to give my son the same opportunity my parents gave me. To be a kid, and to embrace all the joy of the magic of Christmas and togetherness. Ad to live in the moment, not in the “what’s next”.
The True Meaning Of Christmas
While each year Christmas is just a little different, we will always make time for togetherness. We will always make an absolutely wreck of the living room and I promise I won’t clean it up too quickly. I will sip my coffee slowly, watch the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my child, and realize that THIS…this right here is my why.
Do It Your Way
So momma, don’t feel obligated. Only you know what is best for your mental health, your wallet, and your child(ren)’s happiness. Whatever doesn’t align with those things, don’t do it. Enjoy the view from your home, even if you can’t find the floor of the living room for a while. Embrace it. Live in the moment. Enjoy the magic of Christmas.