In homes across the country, and I assume the world, the stress levels have peeked. Christmas is TOMORROW! Moms are in full blown panic mode. (Except, of course for those who are all set. For the record, I don't like you.) We have run around like chickens with their heads cut off for the last five weeks. We have poured over sale fliers trying to find just the right gift at the best price. Then, about a week ago, we said "screw it" and paid more money just for the sake of not having to go to another store.
We're up to our elbows in wrapping paper and bows and cookie dough. We've had lots of late nights with one more to go. If I could receive sleep wrapped under the tree tomorrow, I'm pretty I would be very happy.
The events of the last few weeks have helped me figure out why I go through this every year. Magic. I want to give my kids magic. They are children for such a short time. Innocence is lost earlier and earlier with each generation. Giving my children a sense of family and tradition and faith and magic is better than any toy I can give them. All of this subterfuge helps them feel that there is magic in this world. And they need that. They need to think that they can be rewarded for being good children. They need to think that the specific thing they have asked for can magically appear just for them. They need to see Mom and Dad working together to get things done. They need to see us putting forth the effort to do things for others.
It is a time to talk about family, those here and those who have already left us. They need to know that it's ok to miss those who are not here, but that we need to continue living. Pulling out my grandmother's recipe box and making some of the treats that she used to make makes me feel closer to her, even though she's not here. I get a sense of whole-ness when I make the cookies with my kids, just as I used to do with Mimere. I hope someday, they'll do the same with their children and grandchildren.
I want my kids to believe that there is good of an unseen nature in this world. They see enough evil. I'm happy to say we have taken the time to watch some classic Christmas specials. We have listened to and sung Christmas songs. We have decorated. We have baked. We have wrapped. We went on the Polar Express. Today, we'll read "A Visit from St. Nick." We'll go visit family. Pat and I will stay up late tonight, making sure the tree is perfect.
Even though our tree will be full of stuff, the best gift we're giving our kids is not anything that can be wrapped. The presents, the songs, the baked goods, the lights, the traditions...they're the physical embodiment of love. And that's the best present of all.