The Christmas Spirit
I hate Christmas Day.
Okay, bear with me. I am the epitome of the Christmas spirit; I mean, I start decorating on November 1st. I listen (and sing loudly) to carols in the car, I enjoy the whole process of wrapping gifts, and I will drive around aimlessly to look at Christmas lights.
I love the season of Christmas in its entirety. This is our first Christmas in the South, in our first home, so we made sure to “Deck The Halls” both inside and out. So when I say I hate Christmas day, it really has nothing to do with the Holiday. So what does it have to do with?
Everyone has traditions, maybe even some that don’t pertain to any Holiday. Growing up, I remember Christmas being magical. I lived in the North, so it was always cold, even if there wasn’t any snow yet. My mom may not have decked the halls quite as hard as I did this year, but she made the Holiday come to life. We decorated the tree, and wrapped presents to Christmas music; not to mention she was always baking something.
In our family, we always would get together as a family on Christmas Eve. We’d eat, dance, and open presents long into the night. It was probably only until 7 or 8, but as a kid, it felt late. My older sisters would come, and my niece and I would be enraptured by the Santa Clause tracker on the news.
I could never get to sleep on Christmas Eve. I know, shocker. Eventually my eyes fell heavy and I would fall into a restless sleep. My poor mom; The moment my eyes opened, I was ready. I woke up at 3 am one year, and my mom said I had to wait until 6. It was the longest 3 hours of my life.
Walking down the stairs in the morning to see the presents under the tree always left me in awe. Barely an hour later and it was over. The presents were UN-wrapped, the sun was up, and my mom was making breakfast. The magic suddenly felt empty. I loved everything I received, so that wasn’t it. There was a hollow feeling I couldn’t explain.
Growing up, I was the youngest child. All my siblings were adults with families of their own by the time I was writing letters to Santa. It was just myself, my mom, and my step-dad in the house when I was growing up. I’m not going to lie, it got a little lonely. When the family came over, it felt like the whole house came to life. Add music and presents to the mix, and it was a dream.
Christmas day was a day to stay home; a quiet day. A day to enjoy our new gifts and relax. I hated it. I wanted our house to be filled with family and laughter on Christmas day, not just on Christmas Eve. As I got older, it didn’t exactly improve. The magic of Christmas felt like it had all but disappeared by the time I was 19. I still loved the season, and enjoyed it to the full extent, but come Christmas morning something was still missing.
I have three daughters, and my oldest daughter has a different dad. There have been years where I have been in tears because it was not my year to have my child on the Holiday. My younger two daughters belong to my husband, who serves in the Military, and has missed a Christmas day or two himself. Year after year it has been a struggle of schedules, and I find myself hoping that it will all work out and I have my family around me on Christmas.
This year isn’t without its hiccups. Living in the South has taken us away from the extended family we love to share the Holidays with, and due to my husbands schedule, we don’t have the luxury of traveling back whenever we want. But, being here this year does give me the present I always long for; all my girls together on Christmas morning.
Living here means my husband comes home everyday, and my children are (mostly) together. In the years since I started having my children, it is rare if we venture out on Christmas day. Kind of funny how things come full circle, huh? Maybe we will go look at Christmas lights, or visit friends, but usually we stay home. The very thing I always hated, now isn’t so terrible. I rather like staying in and watching my husband assemble all the new toys. We eat treats, make Holiday drinks, and spend time as a family. It’s what I was missing so much every Christmas morning; The rest of my family.
My girls give me what I need everyday, whether I want it or not. They give me chaos and calm; laughter and tears. They fill our house with their personalities, and it fills a void in me that has been empty since childhood. I was meant to have them. Whatever road they take in life, whatever changes they bring to this world, they were first here with me.
I enjoy the presents, but for me, it has always been about family. I hope my girls grow to value family as much as I do, and one day, when they are all grown up, I hope they still want to come home for the Holidays. That’s all I could ever want for Christmas.