Even now, while you’re small and still very much under the spell of Christmas, I wonder what you’ll remember about this magical season when you’re grown.
Right now, you easily get wrapped up in the candy canes and hot chocolate, the holiday movies and dreams of what special presents might land under our tree on December 25th.
As you should.
I watch your eyes light up at the news of snow on its way and feel your enthusiasm as you scream-sing “Jingle Bells” at the top of your lungs and it brings me such pure joy to witness your interpretation of this time of year firsthand.
And, nostalgic-while-still-in-the-present-moment me, wonders—with all the thought my partner and I pour into the holidays, what parts will stick with our kiddos as core memories? Not in a “my hard work better well pay off!” way, just in a curious way. (Mostly .)
I wonder if you’ll be able to recall the smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven as you dug through your stocking.
I wonder if you’ll remember watching me bake your Grandma’s ricotta pies or the sugar cookies you globbed mountains of icing on.
I wonder when you’ll realize: Oooh, it was Mom who stayed up wrapping until 2 a.m. Christmas Eve night.
I wonder if you’ll hear, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and think back on fun car rides searching for the best-decorated houses.
I wonder if a certain desperately-wished-for present will stick out in your memory—like the Barbie Dreamhouse you are getting this year, or maybe that blue rocking horse from a couple of years ago.
I wonder if watching The Christmas Chronicles, Elf, and Jingle Jangle will automatically make you feel like you’re snuggled up against me on our cozy little couch.
I wonder if you, too, will have a little tree in your future backyard that’ll look like a tiny Christmas tree. I wonder if you’ll decorate it, like we did this year, to honor our memories of years past.
I wonder if my funny elf moving ideas will matter ten, twenty years from now. Okay, sure, I know the answer is, “No, they won’t.” But, I will still forge ahead with zest and enthusiasm.
I wonder if you’ll do colorful lights on your tree, because that’s what we did when you were little. If you’ll tell your friends, roommates, or partners stories about the ornaments your parents packed up for you.
I wonder if reading The Polar Express will make you cry, too, reminding you of the magic you know you felt at one time, and how beautiful that period of your life was—when things were simple and full of hope.
I wonder what type of painting looking back and remembering will create for you. I hope the memories feel fun and exciting and magical. I hope your heart feels filled with love and laughter and gratitude.
What you’ll realize one day is that what’s woven throughout those candy cane, movie-watching, carol-singing memories has always been—spoiler alert—me.
I’ve come up with the craft ideas, I’ve read the books over and over (and over), I’ve made the gift ideas list and have done the purchasing, I’ve made the lists and have checked them twice. (Okay, three times because I get nervous.)
I’ve been the magic-maker. (Honestly, Santa’s got nothin’ on me.)
And it’s because I’ve wanted to be. I’ve wanted to be involved in the excitement of it all, I’ve wanted to be our own family elf. Sure I’ve gone overboard at times (Polar Express ride over two hours away? Should have skipped that one…), but what I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is—simplicity is key.
The special books, the family sing-a-longs, the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house—those are what matter. Those are, if I had to guess, the things you’ll look back on with fondness in the future.
The simple things are the most important things any year, but especially this year.
This year has been anything but simple, generally speaking. It’s been dramatic and heavy, unsettling and sad, overwhelming and confusing. It’s been figuring out joy amid loss, navigating happiness while dealing with pain, living your life in a world that’s been turned upside down.
So when our kids look back on the 2020 holiday season, I hope they are able to remember simple, key feelings and facts. I hope they feel the love surrounding them. I hope they remember being together even when the world was a little wonky. And I hope their hearts light up with the magic of their childhood once again.