The day after Thanksgiving we woke bright and early to get a Christmas tree. If ever there was a person with festive spirit in her heart, it’d be my Munchie. She throws herself into holidays and soaks in the joy of each one. So I was happy to get that tree home for her as soon as we could.
I’ve mentioned before that my father-in-law built Munchie a tree house this past summer. Talk about a childhood dream. The child in me envies her that little space in the sky, but of course the mom in me is so happy for her. Decked out in lights for my in-laws’ annual Christmas party, Angel Tree House (so christened by Munchie) was nothing short of magical.
Since the day we brought home our tree, we’ve done all kinds of wintry, Christmas-ey activities. I decked out the house in Christmas decorations to really get the spirit moving in us. And it seemed to work….for Munchie and my husband.
But as I went through the motions, I had to admit to myself a couple of weeks ago that I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t down about Christmas, didn’t suffer from the Christmas blues I hear inflict so many this time of year.
But something just wasn’t clicking.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed this month. I’ve loved all the things we did as a family. The days baking with Munchie, shopping for gifts, and doing activities at the kitchen table together. Sweet friends invited us over for a cheery gingerbread tea party that was such fun. Lots of giggling, chatter, and smiles.
Each day I’d blast Christmas music in the car and house. I love it. But something was still missing. I read a handful of Christmas books with Munchie each day. We talk about the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior, and why we light the house and tree. Why we send cards to family and friends, wrap gifts and give to others, ooh and ahh at the shiny baubles hanging here and there as we whisk around town during these busy days.
But the last piece of my holiday puzzle was still missing.
I love the look on Munchie’s face each morning when she finds our Elf in a new resting spot. He’s not much of a mischief-maker in our home. We usually find him doing something that replicates Munchie. Reading, coloring, relaxing under a cozy blanket, brushing his teeth. He isn’t a behavior check in our home. He’s just a welcome guest each Christmas season.
We took a drive to the mountains to breathe in some of that cool, crisp air and take a ride on a mining train a sweet family built on their property which houses an old mine.
We walked through the old town afterwards and ate diner food. Greasy and filling on a cold winter day.
I helped out at Munchie’s class Christmas party. Embracing the moments with a room full of eager and joyful sprouts. How can you not be filled with Christmas spirit with all those little loves around?
But still. Something was left unfulfilled in me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. How had the true spirit, that feeling in the heart, not hit me yet?
Two days ago I sat to wrap gifts and Munchie asked me to fill out a cute Christmas sticker story book with her. She’d found it among the Christmas bins. I bought it for her when she was born, tucked it away for when she was older. And visions of her swaddled as a newborn flashed through my head.
A little something shifted inside. I felt a little Christmas sparkle. I put my wrapping aside and we completed the book together, chatting and laughing. Munchie told me we should share all our favorite things about Christmas. So we did. She said she liked doing things with mommy and daddy and Duke, and “mostly giving to others even if getting a present is nice, too. And hot chocolate with marshmallows. And warm hugs.”
Later, Munchie requested we wear our p.j.s and take yet another drive through the neighborhood to look at the lights. We do this a few times a week. She can’t get enough of the lights. The house pictured above is one of our favorites. And she squeals each time she sees it.
Yesterday I became frustrated over something silly. I expressed that frustration loudly. Munchie looked up at me and tugged my shirt a bit. “Oh mama, take a deep bress (yep, missing teeth), and remember the reason for the season like you told me,” she said to me in a voice even more child-like than usual thanks to a stuffy nose.
And I started to get that stinging feeling in my nose. You know, when you’re about to cry. Because while I have tried to teach her all about the real reason for the season, the reason our family celebrates this most magical time of year, I have failed to let it guide me this month. I’ve been eager to fill our days with all things Christmas. Eager to enjoy all aspects of this beloved holiday. In my attempt to squeeze as much Christmas out of December as possible, I let the meaning–and I know all about the meaning–fall beneath the surface for me.
And that peachie-pie girl with the button nose woke my Christmas spirit . I let a tear out, wiped it away quickly, and began to celebrate Christmas last night.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.
I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas eve and Christmas day. And I hope you delight in the joys of the holiday as a 5-year old does. May you hold the spirit of this holiday in your heart all through the new year and remember that God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. The merriest Christmas is not found under a dazzling tree, but within your heart. ♥