Christmas memories

Now that I have a child, I feel extra pressure at Christmastime to make it special for her.  I’m pretty decent these days at relaxing and understanding that everything might not be picture perfect, but it will be good for our family.  We can do what we enjoy and create our own traditions and experiences.  It’s less about everything being perfect and more about enjoying time together.

When I bake Christmas cookies, especially cut-out sugar cookies, I tend to get nostalgic and think of Christmases past.  I remember times from my childhood.  I remember loved ones who won’t be celebrating with us this year because they are in heaven and some who choose not to, which also breaks my heart.  I remember laughter and fun and love.  I want that for my daughter.  It’s more important than presents.  She’ll remember it more than what she got.

While I remember some Christmas gifts I got as a child, I tend to remember memories more.  I remember one year that Christmas fell on a Sunday.  I think I was somewhere around 10.  I got the board game “Hotels” as one of my Christmas gifts.  My dad sat at the kitchen table and played it with me for a couple of hours.  He laughed and had a good time.  I had an even better time.  My dad was a hard-working man who worked long days and was tired at the end of them.    To see him smile was rare.  To hear him laugh was rarer still.  I’m sure that he probably doesn’t even remember that game on Christmas Day so long ago.  But, I’ve never forgotten it.

This photo is circa the memories I'm talking about in today's blog. It was taken at my maternal grandparents' house on Christmas Eve. I'm on the left (duh!) with my older brother and then my parents.

I remember a holiday dinner we had when I was about 12.  Usually our holiday dinners meant going to be with lots of extended family in places other than our house.  But, my mom got out the nice lace tablecloth, good dishes and candles.  We came home from school and everything looked so pretty.  She made our own holiday dinner for us on just a random weekday.  It was so cool to me.  Again, I’ve never forgotten it.  When I mentioned it to my mom a couple of years ago, she had forgotten all about it.

These are the kind of things kids remember more than anything about the holidays.  I can’t tell you what else I got that Christmas along with that board game.  I don’t remember exactly what food my mom served us that weeknight.  I just remember how special it was and how special I felt.  This is what I want to create for my child.

While I put pressure on myself sometimes to make small things perfect (like decorating cookies just the right way or wrapping gifts better than my 2-year-old can), I am also trying to make sure I take time away from the preparations and just enjoy time with my child.  Yes, she’s 2.  No, she might not remember the things we’ve done this year like going to see Christmas light displays, but one of these days she will remember.  And for now, just seeing her excitement and hearing her talk about everything is a memory I’m making that I’ll never forget.  Will I remember every toy I bought her this year?  Nope.  Will I remember every cookie we decorated?  Nope.  Will I remember her personality, words and reactions?  Most definitely!

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