christmas has always been my favorite time of year...up until six years ago when mom passed away. however, finally, things are getting back to the way i remember feeling.
when i was little, there was a place "near" where we lived that decorated for christmas griswold-style. i was probably 6 or 7, and my mom, dad, sister, and i would pile in the car and go there...drive through and look at all the lights. i remember it being almost magical. dad would put on christmas music on the radio in the blazer, turn the heater up full blast, and roll down the windows so we could see the lights. it seemed to me, at that time, that there were sooooo many lights! the place seemed to glow with christmas spirit and magic.
i haven't felt that stirring of christmas spirit in the last few years. last year, it was better. i set out to make as many christmas cookies as possible. piper helped, and it truly was a lot of fun.
i want our family to have tradition like we had when i was growing up. every thanksgiving, we put up the christmas tree after our post-turkey naps. dad's "hero" was clark griswold, and every year he set out to outdo himself on the exterior illumination. on christmas eve, we'd all sit on the couch, in our jammies and slippers, and read the christmas story from the bible. the bible we had used to be my grandma's...my dad's mom...and it was weathered, and beaten, and loved, and used. that's what i loved about that bible. we'd put out cookies for santa and carrots for the reindeer. and we'd go to bed.
and inevitably, we'd be awake at 1am, excited to open presents. and my parents never fussed. we'd slept only two hours...sometimes mom and dad hadn't even fallen asleep yet! but never did they fuss, never did they make us go back to bed without opening presents. and no matter how many presents were under the tree, i always remember feeling grateful.
we didn't grow up with lots of money...dad worked in a factory for as long as i can remember, and for a long time, mom stayed home. it was cheaper to stay home than to work and pay for day care. i remember times when dad would get laid off and have to collect unemployment. i remember once mom got a job at kmart as a cashier while dad was laid off. i remember him working construction on parkview hospital when he was laid off. but christmas was always magical, even if it was just socks and underwear and one toy. it was special.
this year, my sister and her husband came over, and we decorated the tree. with christmas carols in the background. with the dog running under our feet. with the kids laughing and squealing. and it was magical again. and i felt bittersweet, wishing mom could be there, but feeling so blessed at the same time because i can share this with my kids and she shared with us. and knowing that God is there, amidst our laughter, probably smiling with us.
last night, we took the kids to the fantasy of lights, which is a 1.5 mile long trail through a park and there are 75 displays of lights. and we piled into our car, kids in jammies and slippers and under blankets, heat on full blast, christmas music in the background, chicken nuggets and fries in fists, windows down...and i was again immersed in christmas magic.
i am so blessed.