The Virtual Advent Tour has become an annual event among the book blogging community that I enjoy. Bloggers who wish to can sign up for a day in which they share their thoughts about Christmas. Today it’s my turn.
Ever since I read Perfect Christmas by Felicity Cloake I’ve been thinking about my own attempts to create perfect Christmases. I’m sure other parents fall into this trap, especially when our children are young. We want to recreate the magic we remember experiencing as children. You know what I mean – the idea that Santa will bring you a special gift, and there will be amazing, special foods, especially sugary treats. And, everything will magically appear overnight.
Of course the reality is that “overnight” takes hours, days, even weeks of frantic activity. Yet, year after year I worked hard to make it be “perfect.” I have some stand-out memories from those efforts, such as the time I waited outside in the cold for a department store to open so I might get one of those rare cabbage patch dolls. Same thing with those Star Wars figures. Also, I’m not sure what drove me to bake eight to ten different kinds of Christmas cookies or to decorate every inch of our house.
Even though, every year on December 26th I felt one breath away from death, I continued to repeat that insanity. And then, a week before Christmas in 1981, it all changed. That was the year my appendix ruptured. I wasn’t home for Christmas. I was in the hospital for two weeks. I was so sick there was no way I could create my version of a perfect Christmas for my children. I had only purchased a few of their gifts, baked only two or three batches of cookies, and Christmas dinner was only in my head.
That year my children were 13, 10 and 8, none of them believed in Santa, but they still believed in the magic. As I discovered, they were old enough to learn and then teach me a valuable lesson: A very happy Christmas is one we all give to each other. It’s not just the mom who creates the perfect Christmas for the family. It’s actually a lot more fun if each person contributes something to make it magical. Each family member (including extended family) pitched in and created a beautiful Christmas for me in the hospital as well as for each other at home.
From that year on we scaled back on our overabundant Christmas celebrations. I learned we didn’t need ten batches of over-the-top cookies or a Christmas dinner that took me six hours to prepare. We tried to change the focus from selfish desires to thinking of others. We were quite happy to have quality gifts rather than every item on a long list.
It wasn’t easy to make those changes, but gradually things turned around. I’ve had relapses from time to time, especially when the grandchildren came along. I think every grandparent wants to spoil their grandchildren. Thank God our grandchildren’s parents are working to raise their daughters to develop good values.
We’re all learning that to share our time and our resources with others is the best gift for everyone. I’m glad we developed a different definition for the perfect Christmas.
I want to wish you, your family and friends
a very happy and joyful Christmas
filled with love, laughter, good food, and