I woke up early this Christmas morning to the sound of silence. No whispers among brothers wondering if Santa came last night. No scrambling of little boy feet at the top of the landing; impatiently waiting for the grown ups to drag themselves out of bed so they could race down the stairs and get to their stockings. No feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air. No Santa Magic. I wasn’t sad. Ok, I lied. I was. This Christmas, more than any, I have missed my little boys. It’s the first Christmas we haven’t all woken up together and frankly the changes that having adult kids brings is sometimes hard to swallow; even more so than the stale cookies your neighbor brought you. ( sorry if I was that neighbor)
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve experienced some not so Holly Jolly Christmases when my kids were little. Brutal 24 hour car rides with toddlers and babies before the traveling savior of DVD’s and gameboys and headphones; and the only word one could say was cracker and he said it no less than 100 times in the first hour of the drive. And did I mention this was before headphones? And the Christmas Eve one kid had a raging ear infection and screamed non stop so I found myself driving in circles around Va Beach for hours in the middle of the night because that was the only way to get him to stop screaming. It was far from a Silent Night. There’s lots more not so merry Christmas stories, but I’ll spare you the details.
And let’s face it. Christmas is A LOT of work. The cooking and the baking and the shopping and the wrapping. And so many times the expectations of the holiday can wreck you.
But the joy of little ones on Christmas morning makes it all worth it. That’s what I miss. I miss the dressing them up in Santa suits and christmas pjs. I mean how many pairs of plaid sleep pants can you get excited about opening on Christmas Eve? I miss finding that perfect toy that you keep telling them you couldn’t find so don’t get your hopes up. (anybody score a Hatchimal?) I miss seeing their faces light up as they peel back the first corner of wrapping paper,suddenly realizing what it is, then pausing to give you that gigantic smile before ripping the rest off in a frenzy; tossing paper like confetti behind them. I miss brothers in Christmas sweaters and matching plaid shirts. And I miss sitting back with my coffee and watching them play with hopes fulfilled in a sea of torn wrapping paper.
But I think what I am missing most is my boys all being together. I thought it was the traditions and cookies and presents and trappings of Christmas that made the day so special all those years, but now I realize it was them. Just them.
Christmas is really all about your people.
And when they are not with you at Christmas, it’s not really Christmas. But as sad and nostalgic as I am this morning, I am one of the lucky ones. I may not be waking up to all my people, but I will get to be with some of them later. It won’t be our usual Christmas, but at least I will get to be with most of my people. For many though, this Christmas will be sad and lonely all day as they miss the people they have lost this year. I know so many that will spend this Christmas for the first time without their person. And the loss they have already been feeling is multiplied as they wake up on Christmas morning knowing they will never share another christmas with the person that made their Christmas, Christmas.
So if you are with all your people today, rejoice and savor the moments. The presents and traditions and magic of christmas are really just about being with your people. And if you are weary this Christmas morning from raising kids and from all the work that goes into making Christmas memories, pause and soak it all in. Because this is what you will miss one Christmas morning in the not so distant future!
So from my people and me, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. And even if we are missing our people, we can still celebrate the one person who came to earth as a little baby to show us what love is and to be the one person we will never have to miss.