“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” – Miracle on 34th Street

I made the comment to a co-worker when I came into work this morning about how Christmas was very evident at my daughter’s elementary school. You could smell the candy coated electricity in the air, and the excitement could be felt as you walked through the halls. Those kiddo’s are practically busting at the seams for the big day.

Yea, Winter Break! The real sign that it has officially become the holidays…the releasing of the children! Teacher’s gifts, wrapped and in tow, I left out of the house, in a half crazed, no make up frenzy, dragging my eight year old behind me in a mad dash to “power shop” at the grocery store on my way to school for a forgotten item I signed up for. ACK!!  How in the world could I have overlooked 100 snack zip lock baggies???

Was I was blinded by the volunteering to deliver 10 large containers of Quakers Instant Oats for the children to make reindeer food during their craft time today??? A neat concoction of oats, glitter, hopes and dreams that you sprinkle out on the front lawn as an enticement for Santa’s sled pullers extraordinaire!

Apparently I think I have more time, energy and brain cells than I really do…but who doesn’t love a crazed run to the grocery store at 7:15 in the morning? Maybe I’ll pour her reindeer food in a cup tonight, splash a little hot water in it and ingest some glitter, hopes and dreams. It’s Christmas Ya’ll!! Are you ready?

As I landed back in the safety of my office, I started thinking about what else I needed to purchase, wrap, make or bake to officially be DONE. Is it really normal to be this tired and run down right at the finish line of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year? I don’t think so. But in the hustle and bustle of the season, it is quite exhausting to whip up the “perfect day”! Is there any way that is even remotely possible? Nope, nada, no way…but yet we try don’t we? We try to the point of almost madness, and that is why we fail…lol!

I am, in all honesty, happier and luckier than most that I have successfully raised (somewhat) reasonable children. They both have a realistic approach to the holidays, and only include one big ticket “hope” on their list each year. It may be all those years spent when they were young, informing them that unless they rid their rooms of all unused, unloved, unnecessary toys and donate them to make room for their new wished items…Santa would bring them only what they needed, verses what they wanted…which was always socks and underwear. I scared them into having a charitable heart.

You always want to think you have done what is necessary to install good spiritual values, solid morals, and empathy, charity and all those good things you see on Hallmark Movies that make you cry and wish your family was as perfect as those you see on TV. I am blessed with fleeting moments of insight however, when I get gob smacked by proof that I really have done a pretty decent job of raising the wee-ones.

At a “girls night dinner” with the Princess last Friday, I ask her what she was looking the most forward to for Christmas. Her reaction was nothing that I expected, and took me totally by surprise. her face lowered, her voice quieted and her eyes looked nervously at the ground.

“I don’t want to answer that.” she sad slowly. I was not only taken aback, but I was a little concerned honestly.

“Why honey, what’s wrong?” I asked reaching for her hand.

“It just makes me feel sort of selfish Mommy.” she said staring right at me, through me.

Selfish? Now I was totally confused.

“Sweetheart, I have no idea why you would feel selfish…explain that to Mommy please.”

“Well, Christmas is all about baby Jesus, and how it is His birthday…That is what Christmas is supposed to be. I just feel bad, and a little embarrassed that I really like….well, I look forward to the presents.” she answered as if it was a huge weight to shamefully admit.

It took everything in me not to start crying tears of joy, right there in front of my sweet baby girl. In one small burst of honest emotion, my daughter confirmed to me that even though I wrestle with the feelings of inadequacy in parenting…I had managed, even if just by luck, to install something deep within her that truly understood The Meaning.

I smiled at her and explained that God knew she was just eight, and Jesus understood the mind of a child, and I didn’t think either one of them would hold it against her that she was looking forward to the presents. I even went so far as to say that she probably got one additional gold star in her crown for being honest. That made her very happy.

So, there you have it….Gold Stars for honesty folks…Christmas isn’t meant to be exhausting, it is meant to be a time we reflect on the blessings that can’t be boxed, joys that can’t be bought, gifts that don’t cost us anything. The Presence, not the presents.

Just a few things to remember that are free to one and all…no coupons needed.

Take a moment to breathe, take a moment to love, take a moment to be thankful, and remember that tomorrow isn’t promised. Pray for those who are missing loved ones, pray for those far from home. Pray for those who are separated from family for whatever reason, pray for those who need a family for whatever reason.

Love those who don’t “do” Christmas, for whatever reason. Wish them well, instead of Merry Christmas because they are good, kind and deserving of all of your glad tidings and Joy. Love your enemy, the person one the other side of the fence, the aisle, the table you are sitting at. Smile at people as you pass them on the streets, in the halls, at the malls, or right in your own homes.

Say “thank you” and mean it as often as possible, to as many as possible. Forgive willingly, love fiercely, hug tightly, and remember that each person’s December 25th is their own story. Walk in someone else’s shoes, look at life through their eyes and realize we are all the same…and just trying to do the very best we can…right here and now.

And lastly, let me assure you, just as I did Princess…even as you are swallowing your last bite of absconded reindeer food, and have glitter smeared all over your face…God our Father, understands the childlike qualities we all have from time to time…and understands our selfish nature, and realizes that we all still like to get presents too.

Merry Christmas Peeps…