Finding my spirit

DSC_0667 treehouse lit

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.

DSC_0673 munchie lit treehouse slide

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.

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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.

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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.

DSC_0860 christmas tea sandwiches

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.

DSC_0107 gingerbread house home

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.

DSC_0110 elf reading gp

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.

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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.

DSC_0077 munchie red coat walking

We walked through the old town afterwards and ate diner food.  Greasy and filling on a cold winter day.

DSC_0059miner diner chili cheese dog n fries

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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?

DSC_0112 christmas sticker book with jingle

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.”


DSC_0086 neighborhood christmas house

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.

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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.

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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.

DSC_0311 good tidings mug

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.  ♥

17 thoughts on “Finding my spirit

    1. You’re so welcome, Carolyn. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. This post started for myself, but then I hoped someone might understand and receive a bit of comfort from it, too. Sending you a Christmas hug–I hope all mends itself soon for you. ~Danielle

  1. Well that was absolutely a perfect story and blessing of love on this Christmas Eve night. God Bless you and yours Honey. Merry Christmas and thank you for always sharing from your heart!

  2. I loved this peek into your Christmas journey and especially love that Munchie helped you feel the lessons you have taught her. I’m excited that you are feeling the Christmas spirit and thank you for adding to mine! Glad to hear you are already having a Merry Christmas. Xoxo

    1. You helped bring me my spirit this year, Abby. Can’t wait for our post-surg/post-holiday/new year/girlfriends dinner! Mousse, here you come! xoxox

  3. Merry Christmas! I’m so happy you found your spirit. Sometimes we need a little help from our little pals. Sending you all a big holiday hug! Enjoy your day. Thinking of you with love…

  4. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart! This has been a very difficult holiday season…all I did was put a wreath on the door. A sweet friend made a gorgeous Christmas wreath for me and it’s been inside. My 15 yr old granddaughter is missing from our lives this Christmas. She was fatally injured in a freak auto accident 6/21. She absolutely loved Christmas so we’ve tried to do RAOK’s in honor of her. Yesterday I realized that we that are left here are in anguish…she’s in Heaven for the most wonderful celebration ever! Somehow, that made me feel better. The “usual” traditions have been changed this year and I think that helps too.

    I love that you have a special little girl in your life that helps to remind you what Christmas is all about! 🙂


    1. Dear Pat, I read your message late on Christmas day and have been thinking of you since. I can’t imagine the pain you’ve endured daily since the loss of your dear granddaughter and I certainly know my words make little difference–but I’ve kept you in my prayers and I tried to comment on some of your blog posts (but something is wrong on my end and it’s rejecting my comments)–you offer such faith and encouragement to others while you’re grieving an incredibly loss. What a beautiful gift to take the time and energy to do RAOKs for others. Thank you so much for your thoughts/your beautiful comment. And I’m sending you a big hug. I agree–your granddaughter is enjoying the most wonderful celebration ever indeed! xxx

  5. What a lovely trip through your Christmas month … it is nearly the end of Christmas day 2013 and we were blessed again this year to have our family all gathered with us here on Christmas Eve. In 23 years, we’ve only had one year where we didn’t host our beautiful family because we were in Delaware. Our 4 grandchildren have been here each year – the oldest is 23 and newly engaged … another about to graduate college, then the next soon after … eventually they will have other places to be and new families to be with … but, until then, we are so blessed. Thanks for sharing your beautiful message!

    1. Hi Judy, so happy to hear about all your years hosting family. Surely they’re treasured memories for all your family members. I know it’s something extra-special for you to have them all with you as you host, but one day you will get to take a “hosting” break and just enjoy everyone when you’re a welcome guest.:) I thank you so much for stopping by here and the FB page…love to hear from you! xxx

  6. Hi Danielle & Munchie! So, here I am finally reading your wonderful Christmas story and lovinggg the photos, on January 18, 2014. I’m not so sure I would have been able to embrace this beautiful blog when it first arrived in my Inbox, as I, too, was caught up in the heaviness of the holiday hovering over me and trying to stop the running, only to get further behind. Actually, this is the first year I didn’t get my Christmas cards mailed out…have a lovely letter with photos that is still sitting on my desk staring at me and saying, “send me as a New Year message, pleaseee”, and then today, in an effort to organize my Inbox, this amazing email popped up and I sat back and read every word without feeling rushed. It prompted me to reflect on our holiday season and the special moments that we shared with our beautiful daughter, as she hosted her first Christmas holiday. We were the honored guests – first time Christmas was away from home since she was born 25 years ago – she made it feel just like we were home – I could see my influence in her beautiful Christmas wonderland and realized we had come full circle and awesome to witness. I know that some day your Munchie will give you the gift of Christmas from her home ~ she is already soaking it all in! Happy 2014! xo

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