Saturday, December 12, 2009

Simplify, simplify, simplify

I have the greatest memories of Christmas as a child.

back: Dad, Mom, Clyde.  front: Julie, me, Kevin.  1965
For years I have felt the importance of creating these memories for my children.  I worried that they would be disappointed if I left out one tradition (and yet I was still adding more!).  I wanted their gifts to fulfill every wish and fantasy (even though I knew it was important to not place an emphasis on material things).  I wanted them to feel the magic of Christmas (and yet know that it really is about Christ).  And I wanted my house to represent my love of creating beauty around me (without spending a lot of money or getting stressed about decorating).
Do you see my contradictions  in thought and action?
Do you see how impossible I made these expectations?
I wanted to pass my childhood Christmas memories on to my children.

Kevin, me and Julie.  1968
This year Eddie told me that he didn't want to help decorate the tree because I forced him to do it last year and it was a bad memory.
Did I really?  Maybe I had just been having a meltdown about the boxes of ornaments and decorations cluttering the house.  Didn't the tree need to be "done" so I could have the boxes put away and we could enjoy the season?
Or maybe I was having a bad day.  Or season.

I heard this quote recently:
In response to several friends talking about how stressful Christmas was for them, an elderly Marjorie Hinckley "listened patiently, and then without the slightest edge of criticism in her voice said,
'I love Christmas.  It is the most joyful of all seasons.  I love seeing the eyes of little children light up on Christmas morning. I love giving gifts. I love being with my family. We just need to simplify and remember what we are celebrating.'" (quoted by Janet Lee).

Rose and Lanae at Grandma's. 1995
"I love seeing the eyes of little children light up."
And then it hit me.  Like a brick on my head.  Or a feather in my heart.
That was my real memory.  My mother loved the children's enthusiasm and anticipation.  She loved their laughter. She loved seeing their eyes light up.

Me,  Julie and Mrs. Beasleys all around1969

Santa, Kevin, Julie and me.  1970
When I reflect on it, the Feeling I had at Christmas when I was a child is the thing that really formed my memories of childhood Christmases.  This was the time of year my mother was most happy.  She loved teasing us with the anticipation of gifts, laughing when we thought we knew what we were getting, looking at the lights on the tree and having a fire going while we drank hot chocolate.  She loved putting the Santa and reindeer scene on her giant living room mirror.  She didn't stress about it.  She loved the process.

 Eddie, Nicole and Jackson at Grandma's 1997
 So this year, I will not care that the ornament boxes are still in the living room.   That the clutter of Christmas wrappings are around me.   That I didn't get all of my handi-work completed.
I will instead focus on the smiles, the eyes and the anticipation.  I will let my children know the things I love about Christmas so they can see how happy I am.
And I will be grateful for Christ's birth so we can celebrate these joys.

Mom with Ben, Nicole and Rose, 1993
I miss you, mom.  But I will try to carry on the happy memory of Christmas for my family.
And I will notice the eyes of the children.


johnsoncircus said...

lovely post! Look at the Tinsel on the the trees in your childhood pictures. Oh the memories! My mom loved tinsel and would insist that you put te tinsel on one strand at a time. Can you even buy tinsel anymore?

Reba, fish in Russian said...

I love looking at these Christmas photographs. I just arrived in Powder Springs and I have been indulging in stacks of albums. There is one with my two older brothers, scared and sitting on a worn-out Santa's lap. Good laugh.
Hope to see you soon.