For so many years, at about this time, my inner Martha Steward would surface.
She couldn't help herself, really. Christmas lurked everywhere. In fact it had been lurking since early fall, if not sooner, in a few places.
Magazine articles promised magic, as did Pinterest. They both made it look so easy.
And, in addition, I inherited my mom's great expectations as well. Christmas meant production time, including an immaculate house (no easy feat with 4 children), an elaborate meal to be eaten early (Said children had no desire to eat - c'mon, new toys beckoned!), and relatives to visit afterward, while dressed in our very best. (Which meant, of course, we had to leave those toys behind.) Looking back, I wonder how much my mom enjoyed Christmas. Part of me suspects not much, and that she was glad to see it over and done with.
So, I don't have sugar plums dancing through my head. Instead, I have expectations. Or, at least I did.
Because you see, I am questioning most of them - questioning how much joy they bring, because for me, Christmas should bring joy.
I began shedding these expectations when my now adult kids were small. To my mother's horror, out went the blankety blank huge meal, which like me, my kids just wanted over and done with as well. We treated ourselves to steaks on the grill (Yes, even during a blizzard.) Raising 3 kids on an enlisted guy's salary very rarely included steaks, so yeah, dinner became a treat. I didn't have a planned time; when the kids began making hungry noises, Phil commenced grilling.
So, I began to think about exactly what did bring joy; what is it about Christmas that makes me smile, and so far, I've come up with this:
- the smell of a fresh tree
- twinkling lights
- carols - but not too early!
- child made decorations
- spice drops in a candy dish
- chilling out with family
- decorating the dining room table
- collections of santas and penguins
- cookies, especially sugar cookies, pitzelles, and Italian filled cookies
- eating when we feel like it
- beautiful wrapping
- manger scense
- an amaryllis coming into bloom
- giving the twits money to drop in the Salvation Army bucket
- creating family photo albums with the year's memories
So much of the list appeals to the artist in me - the colors, the textures, and the smells of the season, and some of it just doesn't get done. Especially those beautifully wrapped gifts. Those wrappings are lost on 5 and 7 year old boys. They would never dream of stopping to oooh and ahhh over how I wrapped their gifts. Nope, they simply want to know the fastest way to get the paper off the presents. So, I choose a few people who I know will love it as much as I do, and their presents get the 5 Star treatment.
My husband, thank the good Lord, takes care of the cookies. Cooking and baking are his thing, his claim to fame. I just eat them. (I eat a lot of them!)
My twits (grandsons) will help to decorate the tree, and we'll make chains and snow globes this weekend, none of it up to Martha's standards, but far more precious to me than what Martha creates.
I'm beginning to downsize the decorations; each year some get given away. I don't want the trappings of Christmas to consume my life; I need time to make the memories.
Memory making commences this weekend; it will be messy.
It will be glorious!