How is it that a few days ago we were all saying "I can't believe it is Christmas in however many days" and now we are saying "I can't believe it is over"? In a way, Christmas is sort of like a wedding but one that comes and goes each and every year complete with plenty of planning, build-up, momentum and then you blink....and it is over. The gifts that were only a mere few days ago wrapped so beautifully under the tree are now unwrapped and either being used or stored in places to be used at a later date or time. The big meal of the day has been shopped for and consumed and all of the wishes and hopes that children had for Santa have come and gone...until next year.
This year though, something different happened for me. I celebrated my 33rd Christmas but on some level, I feel like I celebrated my 1st or at least the first where I really "got it". I know that last year and in some years past, the actual meaning of Christmas and the magic that it brings with it has been overshadowed by the comercialisim brought on by the retailers of the world and I have got caught up in the hubub of things which in turn made me feel almost "relieved" when 12/25 had come and gone as although I have always loved Christmas, it was almost nice to wake up and have the preassure be off.
Yesterday though, I woke up on 12/26 and wished that we were able to re-live the day before again. What happened that was different this year was a I got to see Christmas for the first time, through the eyes of my beautiful daughter and although she didn't understand what was going on and will not remember the day apart from photos and video tape that will be shown to her in years to come, I will remember it for her.
I always knew that Christmas was not about what one got or didn't get under the tree and that it was about spending time with those that we love and care for but to experience someone's Christmas with them for the first time and to know that you are a major part in making that a beautiful day is truly amazing. Even though our daughter got lots of gifts and I have since learned that one almost needs an engineering degree to wrap children's toys...we started family traditions that we hope to continue in years to come and this year, all seemed to take more time with what we did.
We opened presents slowly and spent more time actually looking at what each other got rather than just "oh, wow thanks" and then moving on to the next one. We spent longer eating our meal in part due to the baby needing her "beef and vegetables" mid-way through which gave us more time to talk and share what is going on in our lives with each other. We didn't spend the morning sleeping in as we have in years past (pre-baby) and then rushing around to get ready at the last minute and head out the door but my husband and I were up at 7:00 in the morning, showered and spending time with our little one who sat in the middle of our bed in her Christmas p.j.'s as we told her that "Santa came last night and what did her bring you" as she babbled back at us "nigh, nigh, nigh, nigh, nigh" and beamed from ear to ear. Not because it was Christmas or because there were gifts waiting downstairs but because she was just happy to be with her Mommy and Daddy in the morning and didn't really care what we did.
In other words...we relished every single moment. Was it all peace and tranquility and Norman Rockwell like??? Um...nope. On the 23rd I realized I had to go to Costco and get wipes and formula for the kiddo (oops...as we were almost completely out) and did have my patience tested there when I realized that the reason I was stuck behind a wall of people in the freezer section wasn't because it was really that busy but because I had gone at "food tasting time" and they were waiting in line for a 2x2 inch piece of a crescent roll (!!!) but, I got through it. I had to organize the babies things the afternoon before that were being taken with us and left a note by the back door of "things not to forget" which was about 7 points long and the fact that I didn't write "baby" on there is actually quite funny but in the end though...none of that mattered.
What mattered is that I will never forget the 3 of us sitting on the sofa on the afternoon of Christmas Eve reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and I will never forget the first time we played Santa for someone other than ourselves. I will never forget the gleam in my 6 month olds eyes as she got her first baby doll and swiflty proceeded to put the toes in her mouth or how she somehow knew just how to tear the wrapping paper off of her multitude of gifts. I will also never forget the way she looked sitting on my parents living room floor all dressed up in her sparkly dress and tights as I know it won't always be that easy and there will be years to come where getting her in a Christmas dress will be more a battle than a joy - even though this year the zipper did get stuck and it took 4 of us to finally get the thing on her.
It was that and the realization that this time last year, our little one was just that...a very little one and my husband and I stood by our tree then saying "this time next year" and only able to imagine what Christmas 2009 would bring. I thought that I could imagine the joy and wonder but I couldn't...it is like when she was born and I held her for the first time, I still can't describe it...the english language doesn't posess the words and any parent understands this. It is more than love, it is more than joy...it is the realization that there is something out there greater than any one of us and in the end...isn't that what Christmas is really all about? Family, friends, children and their first time joys giving us who have experienced this so many times before the opportunity to truly understand and appreciate it again all because of the magic that is brought on by someone or something that has a greater presence than any of us and which continues to shine through even through the smallest of wonders.....even those of a 6 month old.