Christmas was here {twenty fourteen}

I'm not sure if you noticed, but Christmas was here. Quickly stamped on our hearts and our minds to let us know that the spirit didn't escape us, even though I thought it would. Somehow this Christmas was made up of little moments, nothing big, nothing extravagant, just simple pleasures that somehow mask themselves when the smell of pine and sugar cookies fill the air. So in case you didn't notice (that means you, self), Christmas was definitely here.

Our tree that was decorated with love and imperfections. Because I was too tired to finish the bottom half of the tree, the girls, happily decorated it. Leaving holes and putting more than one ornament per branch. I had every intention of cleaning it up, but there was something about it's character that made me stop. It was pretty perfect the way it was.

Late nights and early mornings can take the spirit right out of you. But falling asleep in the light of your Christmas tree can change that. One night I looked over to see she was so quiet and calm, and so grown up at the same time. In the light of the tree, I realized Christmas was here, whether I was ready or not.

Our Elf, Buddy Fiddlesticks McChristmas-Pants is usually the star of the show. Sadly this year, I just didn't have the time, or the energy. The girls weren't sad, but many of my friends were. This year Buddy did sit on the shelf, worn and well loved from breaking all the Elf rules. He did come through with one tradition, new books, that he delivered a few days into the month. Then he returned to the shelf to wait for Christmas to get here.

We did a lot of school night baking, because before I knew it there were only nine days left before Christmas.Like my mother before me, I realized that school nights are as good a time as any to get into the Christmas spirit. Because Christmas waits for no one.

New shoes with a kitten heel. New dress with velvet and tulle. Sequins in our hair. All the dressings for a fantastic Christmas program. This girl sang and danced, and even recited a poem in front of the entire second grade. And as she sang "Blue Christmas", I had to admit, Christmas was finally here.

With every Saturday and Sunday filled with work or dance or school programs, we took a mental health day. I called it our little Christmas "hooky" day. It was the last Tuesday before break and I was off, so we slept in and then had cookies for breakfast. We dressed and spent over an hour at the used book store, finding vintage books and new chapter books, and if you can believe it, Christmas spirit. We took our time at Walmart, we took our time at home, we took our time and spent it with each other. We mixed cookie dough and I even made a chicken dinner. Because Christmas was about a week away, and I needed a day to find my Christmas spirit, and I needed to find it fast.

Christmas pajama parties when you are seven will make your spirit bright. We had pizza and cupcakes and watched Prep and Landing. And I stressed and yelled and asked myself a million times why on earth I thought eight seven year old girls on a Friday night seemed like a good idea. Then in the thick of it, with squeals and chocolate smeared faces and hands, I realized, this was a good idea. But I also made sure the parents picked them up by eight.

Peppermint stripes on an early Saturday morning. School programs and songs about Hot Chocolate and Marshmallow Worlds that will put you in the mood for Christmas faster than any song about Reindeer. It's torture to sit through a preschool program, but this girl made it worth every second. She sang, she danced, she laughed and didn't shed one tear. Oh the victories that the Christmas spirit will bring.

And so, while I lamented and cried and carried on about how this Christmas wasn't the one I had planned, or the one that I wanted. Because all I could think of was that Christmas was going to pass me by, I was blind to see that Christmas was here all along. In the tiny ways, in the simple ways, in the ways that reveal themselves later. So I went into my Instagram feed and took notice. Knowing that I wanted to capture every ounce of Christmas before it was gone, and then realizing, I was doing just that...

Late nights and drug store shopping sprees for more antibiotics. Because nothing says Christmas like a sinus infection.

Days off in the middle of the week that are cause for celebrations. And snuggles from your littlest one even though she is not so little anymore.

Dressing up with fur and lip gloss for Starbucks frappes. Because we are seven going on seventeen. And because red cups and Venti anythings prove that the Christmas spirit is alive and well.

Date nights to play Santa with your better half, even though you'd both rather stay home and sleep, or watch a movie, or... But date nights because it's the Christmas thing to do.

Snoopy sweaters and Charlie Brown Christmas on loop. Football in the background and celebrating Christmas three and four times because there are so many people to love, and so much food to eat.

Falling asleep waiting for mom to get home after her closing shift at work. Because retail means long hours and last minute shopping for customers and moms who work in retail.

Olaf slippers because Frozen is still the best thing that has happened in your four year old life. And because Olaf likes warm hugs and so do you.

Reading The Night Before Christmas with your grandma, because grandmas make it magical. I know because it was magical when she read it to me as a mom, so it has to be even better now.

Last minute cookies so Santa has a treat, because we burned the sugar cookies the night before. Because mom also botched two cakes in her exhaustion. Christmas Eve baking is totally a thing, even when you have been up since four to make your six am shift. I promise it's totally a thing.

Seeing Santa for the first time without tears since being six months old. Waking up and asking to see Santa for a full two weeks. Having parents who wait, just to make sure the desire is going to stick. Then getting dressed up, hair done, lip gloss on, to sit next to the big guy for less than a minute. But it was there, all the Christmas spirit I was missing, all the courage she had saved, all the tears I wanted to shed. This was one for the Christmas record books.

Looking for this girl on Christmas Eve, only to find her in her Papa's lap (my grandpa) opening her gifts. He was more than happy to help, and I was overwhelmed with the blessing of it. I still have both sets of grandparents, a luxury these days, and they enjoy my girls so much. I snapped this picture so I would always have this moment, because there are pictures of me this age with him, helping me open my gifts. So this is Christmas, this feeling, these moments, that are fleeting, and at the same time, almost in slow motion. As if you can slow down this little moment in this pocket of time.

In the aftermath, on Christmas Eve night I looked over and knew, Christmas was here, surrounding us with love and chaos. Like most things in life, it wasn't exactly the Christmas I wanted or planned for two thousand fourteen. I wanted to be home with my girls, spending our days baking and crafting and soaking in the spirit. I thought those things were what made Christmas, Christmas. I thought that you had to have twenty five days of caroling and home made advents and sugar cookie cut outs to really be in the spirit. I have never been more wrong. In the mess and the imperfections I found my Christmas spirit. In the eyes of my child ready to see Santa. In the joy the girls took in decorating the tree without mom's help. I found my Christmas spirit in days playing hooky from school and making gingerbread cookies at seven on a school night. The last minute shopping trips, the botched cakes, pounds of gluten free cookie dough, the last minute shopping trip to Target on December 23rd, they were all little things that made up the one big thing I was missing; my Christmas spirit. A pajama party, a date night at Target, trips to the drugstore for antibiotics again, all the things that tried to derail me, and for a moment they did. But somewhere between the chaos and bullshit, I found it. I found the Christmas spirit. I sang along with it at the top of my lungs and then cried all over again from the blessing of it.

Because no matter what I thought, no matter how much I worried, no matter how much I stressed over missing Christmas...

Christmas was here.

And it was imperfect and chaotic and every single bit of what I needed. All along I thought it was the Christmas I didn't want, when in fact it was exactly what I wanted. It was filled with hidden blessings, lots of love, and just enough grace to get me through. Christmas was very much here, and I'm so damn thankful that it was. 


  1. Looks like you had a crazy fun holiday! Merry Christmas Megan!