|With PaPa and Jean at the parade!|
|Watching the bands go by.|
|Sleepy girl after the parade.|
|Ready for church!|
And then there was Christmas morning. Walking down the steps and into the living room was pure magic. The entire room seemed to shimmer with the tree lights in that dark room bouncing off all the shiny wrapping paper. Santa always put an orange in the bottom of our stockings and bubble bath underneath. So many wonderful memories, many of which I'm trying my best to recreate for my own children.
As an adult, Christmas has been so different for me. When I was young, even though I heard the Christmas story over and over again, it was mostly about Santa and presents. Being excited about those two things seemed to totally consume me and practically made me float with Christmas spirit. But now, it's a little harder to find that totally consuming Christmas joy. Yes, I'm excited about the upcoming holiday, but it's not true joy. (Having kids has definitely helped. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of four-year-old Tommy last year was completely amazing and definitely pulled me deeper into the Christmas spirit.)
Since I grew up in Pennsylvania, I associate Christmas with cold weather. Here in Virginia this week we're supposed to have two days of 70 degree weather. 70 degrees! I still haven't gotten used to warmer winter weather. If it's not cold, it doesn't feel like Christmas time. And trying to get any shopping done in December is, for me, like taking a pair of pliers and pulling my own teeth out (yikes - that sounds really dramatic, but I think it works). I hate going into a mall in December. I always like to think that people are more friendly and kind during the holidays, but the stores are filled with people who are stressed, in a hurry, and not very happy (although there is the occasional happy and kind person).
At this point in my life, I want more from Christmas than presents and stress and wanting to pull my teeth out. I want the actual true meaning of Christmas. I want hope and peace and love and joy. I want to spend time listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate with my family. I want to knit something warm and cozy to give as a gift. I want to watch Christmas movies. I want to read the Christmas story to my children and try to help them understand the miracle of it all. I want to sit and be quiet. I want to give to those in need. I want to be home every weekend so we can be in church for Advent. I want to remember the words of 1 Corinthians 13.
That's a lot of stuff to want - and not one of those things includes stepping foot in a mall. I spent some time in October thinking ahead and planning so that I could accomplish all of those things I listed above during the month of December. Last year I started a new personal tradition of choosing a December goal. For 2011, it was "Don't rush." Yeah. That one was tough. I think I did an ok job, but there was definitely room for improvement. This year I've decided on "Be prepared" - not only for the commercial side of Christmas, but more importantly, for the spiritual. So far, so good. I started and finished my shopping in November so that the entire month of December can be spent focusing on all those wants I listed above, which will indeed help me to "be prepared" for the true meaning of Christmas.
My hope for you this December is that no matter what you're celebrating, you'll be prepared. Be prepared so you can be present for your family, your friends, your children, yourself. So you can take time to be quiet. So you can find hope, peace, love, and joy. So you can feel the true meaning of this magical season.