It’s a little after 10 pm on Christmas night, and I’m comfortably settled on my sofa, a glass of wine within reach, a new book on the table next to me, and my family surrounding me…and I feel full of the spirit of the season. I have had a wonderful Christmas, and as my boys get older, I’m surprised and delighted that the wonder of Christmas, the excitement and the anticipation, has not faded for them. They continue to amaze me with the amount of joy they get from the Season…not just the stuff. Yes, they have lists of “things” that they would love to have…games and movies, musical instruments and electronics, legos and books… all of the things that boys 11-20 years of age dream of. But what I find so charming and endearing is that even though they have lists of things they would love to HAVE, they also hold another list close to their hearts, a list that seems more important to them. This is a list of things they want to do…with us…to celebrate Christmas. From “Christmas Vacation” on Thanksgiving night through New Year’s Eve celebrations, they talk about, plan for, and execute family time in a way that many their age would not. They watch a Christmas movie every night in December. They plan our day in New York City, where we visit the “Big Tree,” Macy’s windows, and St. Patrick’s. They shop for each other, and for me and Rick, thoughtfully and enthusiastically. They plan the grocery list of the Christmas Eve “finger food feast.” They seem to want to be with us, and with each other, and over the last two days, the conversations I’ve been lucky enough to overhear have been about how much they love the feeling of Christmas, and the way we celebrate it together.
It starts on Christmas Eve morning, when I get busy in the kitchen, preparing the Christmas morning casseroles, the blueberry coffee cake, and the appetizers for later in the day. They offer to help, sneak a taste, play games with each other, watch movies and listen to music. They never ask to go hang with friends, or tell us we’re boring, or retreat to their rooms. They want to go to church, because they love the service, and because it makes it feel like Christmas–the songs, the message, the beautifully decorated sanctuary. They come home, track Santa on Norad, grab some eggnog and some food, and wait for “A Christmas Story” 24-hour marathon to start. And while we watch the adventures of Ralphie and Randy, they chatter about how much they love Christmas, mostly Christmas Eve…because once Christmas Day arrives, they feel a little blue that it’s almost done. They talk about how they won’t sleep, how early they may get up, who’s turn it is to be Santa, and how we shouldn’t rush through the gifts. They talk about how much they love our Christmas Eve and our Christmas Day…stress-free and calm, and even predictable, family time.
This Christmas has been a quiet, beautiful end to what has been a crazy, sometimes diffiicult year. I’m blessed with a loving and generous husband, and loving and generous sons. I know that they are getting older, and that in a blink of an eye they will be celebrating Christmas with their own families. I wish for them Christmas after Christmas full of love, tradition and contentment. I wish for them Christmas after Christmas laced with memories of the times we’ve shared. I wish for them Christmas after Christmas filled with child-like wonder, excitement and anticipation. And I wish for them Christmas after Christmas filled with peace and joy and family. That’s what they have given me, and that’s the best gift ever.