Monday, December 26, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

There is something magical about the Christmas season, when you let that magic creep it's way into your heart. I was so busy this year and overwhelmed with the expectations I had of myself, the Christmas Spirit didn't really hit me until it was almost too late.

Luckily, by the time Christmas Eve came, I was feeling anticipatory and happy for the upcoming day. I quietly padded upstairs to make the final preparations and assist Santa in filling the stockings and getting gifts under the tree.

The Advent House was empty and the children's mini nativity, found one by one behind the advent doors the last eleven days before Christmas, huddled under the small tree.

The Book Advent was slowly unwrapped and read all December long. We had finished with the last book read by my dear sister, Melissa who engaged the children with her insight and attentiveness. She was careful to point out the details in the pictures and, even Henry stayed still for almost half of the story.

The stillness and peace of Christmas Eve was calming and I found myself contemplating the Past, Present and Future Christmases of my life.

The very first ornament Ben and I got after we were married was this stag. The glitter on his antlers is slowly flaking off, but he is still one of my favorites.

This ornament came with the advent of children in our lives. The magic and mystery of Santa started all over for me again when I shared the tradition with my own family.

A new ornament that Ben's mother, Jacqueline, gave me for Christmas this year. Quite similar to my dream of a charming country home for my family.

Another ornament from Jacqueline, given to Ben. A slightly bigger country home...

Santa brings us a new ornament every year.

I was reminded of the wee hours of Christmas morn when I would wake up and sneak down the stairs to stare at the glory of the Christmas tree and the gifts. The tree was different then, the lights colorful and twinkling, most of the ornaments hand-made by my mother as well as by all of us children.

I imagine that as my children age and start to craft ornaments and other decorations, Christmas around my house will become more colorful, homespun and cozy. Until then, the frosty silver glow of my tree will warm my heart at Christmastime.

My best friend in grade school gave me this bear one year for Christmas. It was "accidentally" tossed into the coals in the fireplace the day I got it and has a tiny burnt spot on the bottom of one foot. I have been understandably protective of it ever since. I never properly named it. It has seen over twenty Christmases.

He has not complained once.

Everything was bigger and more magical when I was young. It seemed that I was forever looking up at everything with curiosity, wonder and excitement. At some point I stopped, perhaps when I foolishly thought most everything had reached eye-level. My children have helped me to remember the joy of those innocent days and try to regain those qualities that are natural and inborn to all humanity. 

While Christmas helps me to remember these things I want for myself and my family, it also reminds me that the new year is coming and with it, new promises to myself and a fresh start. These are feelings and experiences that I don't just want at Christmastime, but all the year through.

And we should never stop looking up in curiosity, wonder and excitement.

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