A Little Christmas Magic …

I have always loved Christmas.  When I was a little girl, it was my most favorite holiday.  Rudolph was my favorite Christmas character because he was Santa’s loyal companion & Santa could not have delivered all those presents without Rudolph leading the charge.  I loved him so much, that when I was four years old, I insisted that everyone call me “Rudolph,” and wouldn’t acknowledge anyone unless they did so.

Rudolph (Rankin/Bass)
Rudolph (Rankin/Bass)

I was the child whose eyes lit up at the sound of jingle bells, who never questioned why there was a “Santa” at every mall or parade, the little girl who never thought twice about why Santa’s handwriting looked identical to my mother’s.  I wanted to believe in everything & I did.  And my parents made Christmas, (and every holiday,) fun and festive.  We cut down our own Christmas tree in the mountains of Northern California, my mother and I baked cookies and candies for friends, we left a plate of cookies & some milk for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph.  It was magical.

Around the age of 9 or so, kids started spreading horrible rumors about Santa & how he wasn’t “real.”  I got into several verbal altercations with bully-boys about the subject of Santa.  Finally, when I was 11, my mother sat me down & told me that the rumors were true, Santa wasn’t real, but the magic of Christmas was real … I cried and cried.  I didn’t want to stop believing in Santa.  I didn’t want to grow up & become that jaded adult who couldn’t see the magic & beauty in our world.  I promised myself that even though Santa may not be ONE man who delivers presents via a reindeer-driven sleigh, Santa was alive in my heart & in the hearts of many, and that I would never stop believing.

vintage cheery santa

When I met my husband, he and I enjoyed celebrating the holidays, (even though he is Jewish, but not religious.)  Every year, we’d get a fresh tree, exchanged gifts, (some from us, some from Santa,) and we always got the kitties gifts from Santa, too.  We put little treats in each others’ stockings & made a special Christmas Eve meal … the magic of Christmas was still alive.

But the fun really started when we had The Boy. Of course the first year, The Boy was oblivious to the goings on, and the second year pretty much the same, although he knew something was up … then the third year, which was last year, he was a little more than 2 years old & started to really get it.  Now, at age 3, he reminds me of myself when I was his age – his bright hazel eyes sparkle with wonderment, just in awe of every little bit of magic that surrounds him.  He sings Christmas carols, counts down the days until Santa arrives, bakes cookies with me, and loves all of the classic Christmas programs: “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Last year we got the Elf On The Shelf.  We had fun with it, The Boy named him “Kermin” (probably because he was very much into Kermit the Frog around the same time the Elf arrived!)  While he enjoyed Kermin’s visit with us last year, this year it has been even more fun!  Every morning, The Boy wakes up and asks where Kermin is, and then runs around the house to find him.

elf pee

I am a creative mom, (I learned from the best,) but I’m not one of those, over-achieving, elf-obsessed mothers who has the elf bake cookies in the middle of the night, only to leave a big mess for me the next morning.  (Considering that The Husband is the one who gets up with The Boy every morning and makes breakfast, I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t appreciate a huge mess like that.)  And it’s supposed to be fun, not a chore.  I read a list of elf ideas, and one of them was: “Elf makes a Rudolph nose — Use red lipstick or a red sharpie to color on the kids’ noses & leave a note near their bed that reads: go look in the mirror.”  First of all, The Boy would most likely wake up if I were to try and rub his nose with lipstick or marker.  Second of all, the lipstick would leave an awful mess on the sheets & if you used a sharpie, hell, you’d never get that off!  Has anyone really ever done that?!?

Most of the time, we just move him from place to place … occasionally, he will be involved in some silly elf hijinks like a snowball fight with other stuffed animals or figurines, or writing messages on the bathroom mirror.  The Boy particularly enjoyed when Kermin forgot to flush the toilet & he discovered that elves pee green!  (*I know in the picture above it looks blue, but it was actually green!)

this is as messy as it gets
this is as messy as it gets

The magic of Christmas is alive and well in this house & it is absolutely the most wonderful time of the year!  Merry Christmas!!

Thanksgiving

I’m prepping Thanksgiving side dishes & feeling nostalgic, so I’m going to take this opportunity to dump all of this emotion on to the page.

Thanksgiving has meant a lot of things to me over the years … First I loved the holiday.  As a child, when we gathered at my aunt & uncle’s house with all of our relatives, Thanksgiving made me feel a part of something bigger; I felt a sense of family, (which was especially important as a child of divorce.)  I remember silly things like how my aunt tried to get us to eat sweet potatoes by putting marshmallows on top.  (Note: I still loathe sweet potatoes!)  I never even actually liked much of the food – I only really loved all the memories we made with our cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Then, people started dying.  And Thanksgiving only meant missing those who weren’t there … first my grandfather, then my grandmother, (who was second in line as my best friend, only missing the top spot because my mother held that place.) A great aunt, a second cousin … the herd was thinning out.

And then my father died.  He died the Monday before Thanksgiving 16 years ago.  There was a time where I couldn’t type that without sobbing.  Now I only have little misty tears in my eyes to blur these letters.  Time really does heal wounds. Our relationship was … complicated.  And that is another post for another day, but as I’ve explained to so many people in my life, it really doesn’t matter what the relationship was – he was my father.  At one time, he was my hero.  A lot happened between being my hero & being dead.  A lot that I never need to tell anyone.  And I probably won’t.  But for a long time, I dreaded Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was sad.  And I felt alone, even though I was surrounded by other family or very close friends.  For a long time Thanksgiving was just a reminder that many of the people that I once loved to share the holiday with were no longer here.  So I tried to do things like jet off to Vegas with a boyfriend & forget that it was some meaningful family holiday, or drink myself into oblivion with my best friend.  That only made me feel empty inside.  It never made the sorrow disappear.

And then I had my own family.  What a world of difference that has made for me these past three years.  I say three years, even though The Husband & I have been married for longer than that … We had Thanksgivings, but it wasn’t a true “family” Thanksgiving until The Boy arrived.  And while the past 2 Thanksgivings have been special, this one is probably my new favorite.

Truth be told, I pretty much forgot that my father died 16 years ago yesterday, simply because my son – the light of my life – didn’t let me for one, single second, forget that I was present and in the moment … in his moment.  We didn’t do anything particularly special.  We ran errands, we laughed, we played … we lived.  We lived our normal, usual lives … full of potty breaks, making sandwiches, putting smiley faces on his new chore chart, and reading the same books we always do.

So now Thanksgiving means something better again.  Something happier.  My son, The Boy, 3 years and then some, fully understands the meaning of Thanksgiving this year.  He has watched The Peanuts “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” 90 times in the past 3 weeks, and knows who Captain Myles Standish is & who Samoset, (the first Native American Indian that the Pilgrims met,) is as well.  He tells me “Mommy, Halloween is all over, now it’s Thanksgiving, and then it will be Christmas.”

Making new memories is a lot better than remembering old ones … and, although I won’t ever forget them, I just cannot let them weigh my heart down.  The Boy needs me to be present.  The Husband needs me to be present.  I need me to be present.  So, I will raise a glass to honor the dead, to give my thanks for the memories we’ve had … and for the memories we’ve yet to make.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone  …  Life Is Beautiful.