I remember Christmas Even when I was 8 years old very vividly. It was 1988 and remember laying in my bed that night, and not being able to fall asleep. My room was all aglow thanks to the plastic plug-in candle burning brightly in my window. But that’s not the part I remember best. I remember laying there crying my eyes out. The happiest night of the year and I was crying.
At that point I’d just realized there was no Santa and I was petrified that there wouldn’t be any gifts under the tree the next morning. I was crushed thinking that the magic of this night and the next morning were gone. I remember thinking to myself that the best part of Christmas was over. That’s some pretty heavy stuff for an 8 year old.
My parents had no idea someone on the playground at school had told me the truth about Santa, so Santa still came that year. There were tons gifts for me from Santa and a few from good old Mom and Dad, too. Christmas morning was completely fun and my tears from the night before were quickly forgotten as I tore through paper and opened toys and books and socks and underwear. (My mother likes to remind me that no matter how many presents I got–bikes! computers! toys! games!– when people asked what I got, I’d somehow forget all the good stuff and remember the socks and underwear.)
That year I learned a big lesson. At a very young age I realized that although some of the magic of Christmas was gone, it wasn’t completely gone. Christmas is still an awesome time of year and there is much to revel in from the wrapping and baking and decorating to the giving and receiving of gifts. Even if they aren’t from Santa.
Now that I have kids, things have changed yet again. The magic is completely back. And I’m here to tell you that I want everything to be magical. Just check out the tagline of this blog. I make the mundane special. It’s my thing. But, for some people that’s a problem because they say I’m putting too much pressure on myself in an attempt to make my kids’ childhoods perfect and magical. My kids should find wonder and magic on their own. And all our pretty ideas pinned to organized Pinterest boards? Those are setting our kids up for a rude awakening when they get to the ‘real world’ and realize that some things just aren’t that special. Or fun. In fact, one day they’ll realize that the monotony of life sucks and you just have to trudge through each day waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel called the weekend or vacation.
But here’s the thing. I don’t agree with any of that. I don’t think day to day life has to be monotonous and boring and I don’t think we should subscribe to that notion nor should we put it forth for our kids. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little help in the magic department — courtesy of dear old Mom. When you’re a child there are so many things that are magical and wondrous and I don’t want my kids to think that ends when they grow up. After all, that’s what I spent Christmas Eve crying about 26 years ago. And it turns out they were tears that didn’t have to be shed.
As a parent, there’s nothing I enjoy more — wholeheartedly and truthfully — there is nothing in the world that makes me happier than watching my kids experience something for the first time. The awe and wonder in their eyes and hearts fill me up with pure joy. It’s often enough to bring tears to my eyes. And so if I can add to that wonder for them, you better believe I’m going to do it. Why? Because it makes my life a little more magical too.
I can also tell you that I don’t feel any pressure from outside sources to do any of this (ahem, Pinterest). We bake tons of cookies and decorate gingerbread houses and make Macaroni Christmas ornaments because I want us to do that. Because my kids love doing crafts. Because it’s fun. I do it because I want to — not because I have to. I also happen to be a mediocre crafter so the things I make don’t always turn out like I imagined. But that’s ok too. That’s all part of what I want my children to know about the magic of life and, more specifically, this holiday season. Try because you want to. Do something because it’s fun. Delight in the magic of the experience, of being together cause that’s where the real magic is made.
So, I’m NOT done making my kids’ Christmas magical. I’m just getting started.