Merry Christmas, moms! But let’s be honest- if you are a mom, you are reading this AFTER Christmas. I am writing it on the afternoon of December 23. No mom is going to have time to read anything until at least December 26. I bet you’re reading this with squinty eyes because you are sleep-deprived and you have a little bit of a headache. You might also be in the same clothes you had on yesterday. There might be a bow or a little piece of tape stuck to you somewhere. Your floor is probably covered with little tiny pieces of wrapping paper and that white foam crap that boxes are packaged with because they are shipped from outer-space. I hope you had a Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cake for breakfast. Why not? Your kids probably ate their one-pound gummy Santa. Did any of your kids get a drum set? A ride on-fire truck? A Disney Princess sing-along microphone? If so, go ahead and put some Rumchata in your coffee. You’ll need it.
My kids are older now, but I do remember those days. I miss them terribly. Call me crazy, but I loved the hectic Christmas season. I went all in for Christmas. I did every Christmas-y thing there was to do. Matthew and Emily had some of the most adorable holiday outfits! Matthew had little sweaters with reindeer and Christmas trees and little boots. Emily had the cutest dresses and sets with matching bows! SO cute. Emily and I usually matched for Christmas Eve mass. Then they had sweet little Christmas jammies to put on when we came home. They looked just precious.
With all of these outfits, we had to make rounds to all of the events. We went to Breakfast with Santa, Parents as Teachers night with Santa, Milk and Cookies with Santa, Christmas Parades, Storytime with Santa, etc. Did my children enjoy these events? Absolutely not. Both of them were terrified of Santa, reindeer, elves, Mrs. Claus, cookies baked by anyone other than me, and strangers of any kind. They basically clung to Mark and me like little spider monkeys the whole time. But we continued to try.
When they were elementary school-age, I signed up to help at all the parties and to bring treats. Matthew was never too fond of this idea. He preferred that his friends think he was an orphan. Emily loved for me to help, but she developed the habit of becoming sick every single year during the Christmas season. One year, I even went to her school party and she didn’t. She always had a cute outfit ready, in the event that she was actually not sick on party day.
A few times, my kids had Christmas programs at school. I remember the very first one. Matthew was in first grade. I was so excited. I invited all of the grandparents over for lunch before the program, because it was held on a Sunday. When we got to the gym and sat down, I could barely contain my excitement. The little first graders filed onto the risers and I could see Matthew right in the middle. I wanted to make sure he knew I was there, so I began to wave at him. Apparently I was waving rather frantically, because one of my rings flew right off of my finger and landed in one of the rows of people ahead of us. Luckily, the other concert-goers were an honest group and my ring made its way back to me. My eyes stayed glued to my little singer. The first few songs involved long instruments that looked like pool noodles, but they made musical sounds. I am sure they have a name. The children were supposed to hold the instruments in their right hands when not in use. Only the boy next to Matthew did not just hold his. He used his to whack my little singer on the head. Repeatedly. The first few times, I gasped audibly. I assumed the teacher(s) would stop the demon child immediately and perhaps issue an apology. No. No one intervened. I found the demon boy’s mother in the crowd. I assumed she must have suffered an eye injury that left her temporarily blinded, but no. She was just smiling and seemed totally unaffected by the whacking. I handed Emily off to a grandma and explained to Mark that I was going to go up to the risers to remove the demon child myself. He thought this was unwise and insisted that I remain seated. Luckily, the instruments were taken away after a few songs. But I have not forgotten. Oh no. I have not forgotten. Matthew assures me that the demon boy now leads a clean life, but I am sure that is a cover.
My favorite part of Christmas was on Christmas Eve when my kids would have on their cute little jammies and they would go out onto the front yard and sprinkle reindeer food. Then they would make a plate of cookies for Santa and get him a glass of milk. Sometimes Emily would write him a letter. Then they would get tucked into their warm beds. I knew they were so excited and happy. I felt like I had done everything I could do as a mom to make their Christmas special. It wasn’t about what was in the boxes they would open in the morning. It was about that warm feeling of love in their hearts as they drifted off to sleep. They knew that they were surrounded by love. God’s love and the love of parents who had literally done everything to make their Christmas special. That warm, over-flowing feeling of unconditional love is the feeling I hope my children can go to sleep with every night.