I’m a lump. A large, helpless lump that requires frequent feedings. A grumpy lump who thinks Christmas will be bleak since I can’t decorate, run up the credit cards or generally stress myself out with all the holiday cheer.
I am totally missing the point.
Because today something beautiful happened. I realized the only reason Christmas looked bleak was because I was hanging on too tightly to my ridiculous fantasy of The Perfect Christmas.
You know the one? The one that looks like something out of The Pottery Barn catalog?
It’s ridiculous because the catalog Christmas? It’s not real! What is real is this twin pregnancy, my three active children, my hard-working husband who would rather play with the kids than spend 4 hours decorating the house.
So I agreed to simplify. One decoration: our tree. One box of of ornaments: the random, hodge-podge, handmade ones. One goal: to have fun.
I was propped up on the couch when I issued the edict: "Children, do whatever you want with the tree!"
You should have heard the shrieks of delight. With one sentence I had entirely upended their universe. Mommy was not going to exert maniacal control over where each ornament was placed? Mommy was not going to be a control freak?
What was next? CANDY FOR DINNER?
Honestly, it was a relief. I didn’t have to create the perfectly decorated, Martha Stewart tree. I could just sit there and watch, listen, laugh and snap a few pictures.
"Mommy, do you remember this one? I made it for you in Kindergarten!" Jewel shrieked, holding up a little beaded angel.
"Mommy, do you like this one I made for you last year?" James asked, holding up a sparkly snowflake.
"Mommy, this was my baby-shoes? This was my ornament when I was a baby?" Jude asked after finding his Baby’s First Christmas ornament.
They were so happy, so cheerful. Yes, an ornament fell and got broken.
"Are you mad?" James asked.
I felt like crying. Because last year, yes, I would have been mad. This year I said, "No, James, I’m not mad. Things get broken. It’s OK."
The more I let go, the happier I became. Suddenly, Christmas was looking brighter and merrier.
The dog crawled under the tree and made himself at home. Last year I would have shewed him out to the backyard. This year I laughed and took a picture.
"Mommy, can we make our own ornaments?" Jewel asked.
Jewel drew an angel, James drew a Christmas tree, Jude tried to draw a Santa Claus, but ended up accepting Jewel’s help with drawing an ornament. They cut out the pictures, hole-punched the tops and hung the drawings on the tree.
"Mommy, did we do a great job?" James asked.
"Do you like it?" Jewel wanted to know.
"Can you take a picture and then show us the picture?" Jude asked.
I was overwhelmed. With joy. With contentment. This. This was not bleak. This was blessed. This was going to be a very, Merry Christmas indeed.
Because all that other stuff? It just doesn’t matter.
"I can feel the holiday cheer!" Jewel shouted at one point and we all laughed.
Yes, baby, so can I.