Saturday, December 13, 2008

Like the Corners of My Mind

Tonight, I was baby-sitting for another mama and I was greeted by the scent of a live Christmas tree, tubes of wrapping paper stored in their Rubbermaid containers waiting to wrap gifts and the Cindy-Lou Who-esque four year old I was watching was dressed in her pj's awash in the glow of the lights and tinsel from the tree.

I was hit with a strong sense of nostalgia of being that Cindy-Lou Who in my pj's, so excited for Christmas to come I could hardly stand myself. As time marches on, the magic of Christmas gets overshadowed by the craze of buying, making, wrapping, shipping, buying some more...

After reading her a few bedtime stories, I was getting a drink in the kitchen when I spotted Baby-Sitter Kryptonite. Yes, it was the classic shirt box with tin foil peeking over the edge that could only mean one thing...cupcakes leftover from a party. As I peeled back the paper and savored the chocolate frosting and sprinkles, I started thinking more about what it was that I really loved about Christmas growing up.

My mom decorates for every holiday, so you can't help but be swept up in it; although we tease her endlessly for her lawn that is now littered with blow-mold snowmen, but really we didn't ramp it up until the nativity came home...Baby Jesus, in plastic blow mold...lit up? And you wouldn't let me watch the Like a Virgin video because it was sacrilege? hmmmm. Do as I say, not as I do, right?

We always had a wood stove in the kitchen and my mom and dad would have us write our Santa letters then they would put them in the fire so that the ashes could fly out the chimney and make their way to the North Pole for Santa to piece back together. He's really quite amazing, that jolly old guy.

Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember (save for the last couple years when I lived further away) is spent at my aunt and uncle's house where all of the aunt, uncles and cousins get together for a Waffle Feed...I have 36 first cousins on that side, and the feed is open to extended family, and really anyone who wants to come in the community. After we get fat and happy on waffles smothered in strawberries and whipped cream or maple syrup, fried eggs and sausage, it's off to Midnight Mass.

Christmas morning was the only time we got pre-sweetened cereal, so it was all about picking your own little mini box of trix or frosted flakes and then it was off to open gifts with my dad in his sweet navy velour track suit (of which J has a frightening duplicate) divying up the gifts, making sure we opened one each in order of age and the handed him the paper to be tightly wadded and promptly disposed of in the garbage bag he had at the ready. We're a 'rip and tear' family. Ironically, now my mom makes home-made sticky buns after gifts are opened, because cold cereal is the last thing we want.

The cost to fly home and spend time with family was J and my gift to each other; we agreed to doing only stockings for each other, and by that I do not mean that there will be a diamond, or whatever the male counterpart to that is, nestled in it. The harried pace at which we've been living for the last year-and-a-half, well really last five-and-a-half, is making this vacation all the more appreciated.

I've mentioned before that we agreed on a home-made Christmas this year in my family. I couldn't help myself in looking at the gifts as I'm preparing to mail them ahead of us and feeling like they're a little paltry. Nevermind that I've spent several hours making them, I keep thinking 'What else should I add to this?' 'What if it's not enough?' 'What if they get me more?' I called Milly, who was having the same internal dilemma for Sherri's gift, as that's the sister she drew. We ended the conversation with the agreement that the whole point of going handmade this year was to spend less and still have a gift that's personal.

Thanks, Cindy, for reminding me of the simple joy of being excited for Christmas' sake. Because, in the end, that's what I really want for my kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes! I love this post, and I love that you and Jared gave this gift of time with friends and family to each other. And, we will all LOVE the things you have made!