Seems like so many family traditions revolve around the holidays. I have lots of fond memories of the holidays of my childhood, and strangely, I don't have many real memories at all of the "things" I got from Santa. I vividly remember walking through the snow with my dad and brother searching for the perfect (aka hideous) cedar tree to chop down and bring home. Later in the years, my parents bought an artificial tree and my brothers went on Christmas strike because they hated it. My parents tried to keep the tree tradition alive by taking us to the same farm we cut our trees from so we could instead, hunt mistletoe. We always brought home a bunch! One year, we were all tossing rocks at this particular branch to knock down a clump and my dad said, "hold on guys, quit throwing rocks for second. I am going to walk under here and try to get it with a stick." Can you picture what happens next? My dad under the tree and my sister Melissa throws a rock anyhow, and busted my dad in the head! My goodness, if I had that on video, we could've been million $$ winners on Funniest Home Video!! We laughed like maniacs! Well, dad not so much, but we all laugh at the story to this day!! I still remember the way my dad used to hang our Christmas lights outside and how I loved the way it made our porch glow. I also remember when my cousin spilled the beans about Santa to me, and how upset I was, and how my dad comforted me by saying he would let me be his little helper elf! I will never forget helping him put out the Christmas gifts and how special it made me feel!!
I try to remember this with all the hustle and bustle of shopping and sales and toy adds. I draw on those memories when I worry about whether Santa will be able to make the kids happy this Christmas. We will never be a family whose kids get hundreds of dollars worth of things for Christmas, but mostly because I know what they need more are family memories that will last them a lifetime, not the "it" toy this year. I am actually a little sad that when the girls open their gifts this Christmas, I won't get any credit for all the hard work and thoughtfulness!! Really, why should Santa get all the credit?! That being said, I am really excited to see their faces when the open the special things they are getting this year!! I am more excited about sharing the joy of Christmas with family and making happy memories with them that they can smile or laugh about when they are older.
I say this last, not because it is least important, but so its the last thing you read! As kids, we did go to church as a family, and we did know the real reason we celebrated Christmas. I am trying very hard to impress upon Lilly and Ryley the importance of the whole season, and why we celebrate at all. Perhaps I am making a bigger impression than I think because the other day at the local library, we took the kids to hear a reading of "Llama llama, holiday drama". (A must read!!) The library worker was referring to Santa and Christmas and Lilly raised her hand and said, "We have Christmas because its Jesus's birthday!" I was so proud of her! Of course, being non-secular, the reader just said, "oh yes, some people celebrate that." Luckily, Lilly was too busy beaming at me and giving me a thumbs up, so she didn't notice the lady's tone! We have been missing out on church a lot lately because Carl and I have both been working Sundays. It makes me sad to miss church because I want the girls always to remember why it is we celebrate this wonderful holiday. Being pregnant myself, I think it makes Christmas especially poignant. I frequently think about Mary riding a donkey for miles and miles and giving birth in a barn and having nothing but rags to wrap her newborn baby in. Makes for quite a picture and it makes me especially thankful that she was willing to do that so we would all have a Saviour!! What a miracle! I think this year we may get a birthday cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning. It seems like it might make a good impression, and how can you go wrong with an extra reason to have cake??
I am going to leave you with a picture of the girls that I took at the end of a cookie baking/decorating/eating session. Every single cookie Ryley iced, she asked, "can I eat this one?" Even if I had said no to the previous 8 cookies, she still asked anyway. Lilly was particularly focused and intense when decorating, carefully adding each sprinkle and chocolate chip. I honestly just sat back and watched them both decorate, loving the looks on their tiny little faces, wishing I could freeze time!!