I confess, I can be a downright Scrooge during the holidays! Bah humbug!
Ironically, I never really did let go of the spirit of Santa. Even when I had been told Santa was not real, I still "believed." I kept believing. I never stopped. I never did come to terms with that information.
I watch the Polar Express, or, better yet, read the story to my children, and I can still hear the bell ringing. It never fails, we can watch that movie fifteen thousand times each season and tears will still well up when the little boy opens the bell from Santa and the parents don't hear it ringing. (His mom says it's a shame because the bell is broken.) His sisters hears the bell. But, the boy says that the time did come when his sister didn't hear it anymore. I can't even hide the tears.
As a mom, I've noticed that as the holidays approach, I feel this negative anxious Scrooge type of tension, though. I get bitter inside. The holidays just aren't what they used to be. Traditions have become requirements and obligations. There are Wish Lists to fulfill for nine kids and...oh my goodness, who else? People are stopping by the house constantly, which means that I have to clean the house relentlessly.
Let's face it. There's never enough money and there's never enough time for the holidays in today's world. At many points leading up to Christmas, the craziness steals the magic right out of the season. Like tonight, when the dreaded Christmas Concert for our elementary school kids came up. I didn't feel good, for starters, having fought a sore throat and now my inner ears were feeling like my throat, sore and pulsing.
I practically dragged myself through the motions of getting ready, baby on hip. Then, getting the baby ready. Schlepped out to the van, baby on hip, and was thankful that my husband didn't mind driving.
Somewhere, somehow, between the excitement of the kids and watching the baby walk (and dance!) along with the children singing on the stage, I got lost in the moment.
The magic of Christmas sneaked up on me, sickness and all.
I tell you, it is my children that bring that magic back every year. It's the sparkle in their eyes when they see the Christmas tree up and decorated for the first time. The delight that they can hardly control as holiday music plays throughout the house and they dance and sing along.
It's in the way that my toddlers sing Christmas songs with all of the words mixed up or totally wrong. Like Chase, with his, "Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what hun a miseride in a one nose open-nay, HEY!" No matter how many times I've sang it to him right, he has the incorrect words etched in his mind.
Children bring laughter to the season.
It's in their attention to detail and the glimmer in their eyes when they are decorating sugar cookies. The giggles that sneak out when they pop a cookie in their mouth while your back is turned. The pride in their eyes when they finish decorating their cookies.
Oh, the first snowfall! The delighted squeals. How the children have to get out and touch and taste the snow as soon as they see it. Their attempts at making snowmen way before there's enough snow to build with. I hate snow and the cold, but the first time a baby in our family experiences snow, the look in their eyes is just priceless.
The symbols of the holiday season make their day, no matter how small. Like hot cocoa with marshmallows or apple pie. Or eggnog! Or building a snowman. And then drinking hot cocoa. With marshmallows. And maybe some caramel drizzle.
Children won't let us forget one tiny detail of the holiday, either.
Like making the reindeer food and putting it out on Christmas Eve. Or leaving a plate and some milk for Santa. (Because Lord knows Santa needs all of the cookies and milk he can get!) Or getting a gift for someone who is special in their life. While these things seem obligatory, and may even have us feeling weighed down with even more stuff to do, the fact that our children had it in their hearts makes it significantly heartwarming.
The way that the baby, who just started walking, begins to dance with the kids and swirl around in her sloppy little heavy footed way to the holiday music. The way that the kids start calling out, "Mom! Dad! Look!" when the baby is dancing around, showing their love for her. The way she tries to pull the tree down or tangle the Christmas tree lights around her neck and then start walking.
Little by little, the magic of the season sneaks up and pushes away the nervous anxiety.
The "Ooo's" and "Ahhh's" when we drive by a house that is lit up with thousands of twinkling lights. Or when we drive through the park, which is decorated with lighted statues. That awestruck look in the kids eyes when we happen to see "reindeer" at dusk in the park, grazing on the grass.
Whether you want to catch the fever or not, the excitement and magic of the holidays is like the flu. If you're around the kids, you're probably going to catch it. No matter how hard you try, even if you have turned into the biggest Mr. or Mrs. Scrooge, you are bound to get hit with the spirit if you are anywhere near kids during the holiday season.
For me, it never fails. No matter how Scrooge-like I feel, somehow, some way, my children will shake that out of me with very little effort, if any at all. Just seeing their innocent elation around the holiday season - that's all it takes to bring the magic back.
Every single year.
If it weren't for my kids, that Polar Express bell would have stopped ringing many, many years ago for me, but, regardless of how financially strapped, stressful, and anxiety-packed the holiday season turns out to be, as long as I am with my children and that special spirit that they carry inside of each one of them, that bell will always ring for me.
They are the magic.
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