To see the magic of the season, I only have to look at the faces of my children. Their faces reflect the wonder of Christmas, the anticipation of something they don’t completely understand.
As a child, we have faith bound by traditions. My family had very distinct Christmas traditions, from decorating after Thanksgiving, to our Christmas eve rituals of dinner and midnight mass, and gifts Christmas morning. Our extended family gathering Christmas Day was always at my parent's house, and overflowed with laughter and warmth, despite wintry weather outside in the suburban Chicago streets. I grew to count on these traditions, as a source for spirituality.
Anyone can think of Christmas memories, the sound of the Nutcracker Suite, singing Silent Night, the smell of evergreen or a burning yule, and a Christmas roast or cookies, to almost taste or smell the familiar food and drink, and scents you experienced as a child. These are inspirations to help center you, and keep your spirit light in what can be a few crazy weeks. As an adult, I have struggled with finding ways to make new traditions far away from our parents and most of our siblings. The only constant we have is Christmas Eve church service.
Last weekend, we finally put up our Christmas Tree, the one that gets decorated with the breakable ornaments. We have a separate little ‘Charlie Brown’ tree we reserve for the boys to decorate with non-breakable ornaments. So our tree went up, but like last year, it didn’t have any ornaments on it. My sister’s family came over for a quick visit Saturday night. I joked with them they were going to help us decorate it. An hour into their visit, the kids (her two daughters, and my two sons) decided it was time to “make the tree look pretty.” My initial panic over the breakable ornaments was quickly remedied as they yelled for help placing ornaments up higher than they could reach, so we all congregated in my converted dining room, now “tree sitting room” as we watched and helped our children having fun in the spirit of Christmas. It was one of those moments I wanted to freeze forever in my mind. I looked around the room, and thought, “this is what it is all about.”