Nostalgia. . . can it be considered a personality trait? You know? Some people are extroverts, others are introverts. One group is given an adventurous spirit while another has cautious personalities. I'm convinced that when it came to be my turn in the "personality trait" line, God realized that he'd been holding back on handing out that nostalgia thing and gave me a few extra helpings to make up for forgetting to evenly disperse it throughout the several thousand people in line in front of me.
It's true, I can take any event, situation, or time and relate it back to a special moment from my past. This is true during any time of the year, but Christmas time--oh, it's really bad. I have so many happy memories of the Christmas season. Memories like being awoken Christmas morning by the sound of I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas blaring through the house. Or the way my Dad would prolong the walk from our bedrooms to the Christmas tree as we anxiously attempted to make our way past him to see if Santa had really come during the night. The scent of cinnamon rolls filling the house and the hour or two we spent shaking gifts as we anticipated the arrival of my grandparents Christmas morning. . . just to name a few.
Our Christmas traditions were numerous and they started weeks before Christmas. In fact, they began the week after Thanksgiving with the decorating of the tree. It wasn't something that we did in haste. Tree decorating was an event and one of my fondest childhood memories. Once the sun dipped below the horizon, we spent hours talking, laughing, and telling stories while lights were strung, ornaments placed, and the scent of the freshly cut Christmas tree was deeply inhaled. There was no rush to get it done. Every step of the process was enjoyed. And while I may not be able to go back to re-experience that time, I most certainly can do what I can to create an experience for my kids.
It started for us the weekend after Thanksgiving. Despite Chad's desire to get a fake tree, he humors my need for nostalgia and we get a real tree.
This year we invited my in-laws to join us for our tree decorating event. For the first time, it didn't feel like we were just getting the job done, but rather we enjoyed the experience with the help of family.
My in-laws took care to bring the magic of Christmas into our home just as if it were their own. Together, we spent the afternoon putting up the tree and enjoying the company of each other. When I shared with my MIL that my Mom used to create wonderful snacks for the tree decorating event. . . she did a little magic of her own. . .
I know that sometimes decorating for Christmas can seem like a task, but when done in this way I find the process is only enjoyable. It's not all work. . . there is plenty of time for play. . .
|Chanelle abandoned him. . . he kept playing|
And cuddling with new babies. . .
And the best part is when the outside sky darkens. Suddenly, the indoors are transformed into a magical place that is a delight to the eyes.
Charlie and Chanelle worked diligently to decorate their own trees in their rooms and to create and atmosphere that was perfect for their space. I'm not sure, but I do believe they are catching it--the love of this season. In fact, we love it so much the we decided to spend this past weekend in much the same way. Helping my Dad decorate his house for the season.
Once again, I feel that feeling. . . that feeling of nostalgia. It's different this time, though. It's my kids and my Dad. Time marches on, but the feelings are all the same. The feeling of love, warmth, and joy as each piece of Christmas is unpacked from boxes and placed in the most perfect of places. In a way, it's surreal. Some things are the same--my Dad, the Christmas music, and the light-hearted feel of it all. No longer am I the "little one", though. Now, I'm the adult watching my husband and my kids with my Dad.
I loved watching a normal house transformed in mere hours as we all worked together carefully placing each piece in it's rightful place. Suddenly, everywhere I turned something sparkled and shimmered making me forget where I was.
In the middle of it all my Dad bravely took the role of Poppy and insisted we all enjoy the parade downtown while he cared for our littlest family member.
As I walked up and down the streets of my hometown I had a strange feeling. . . it was no longer nostalgia, but it was sheer joy at being right here, right now. At this moment I didn't want to go back, but I wanted to fully dive in and swallow up these special moments that were not only for my kids, but for me too. Seeing Christmas through their eyes was far better than wishing I could re-experience the days of the past.
That's good stuff.
As the evening closed with my Dad, the most important event occurred.
. . . the hiding of the Elves.
Each year my Mom hid two of these little elves on the tree and it was Charlie, Chanelle and my nephew's job to find them. This year, the job was entrusted to Charlie and Chanelle. They took great care in finding the perfect hiding place.
And as the weekend closed the feeling of nostalgia was exchanged for something far better. . .
. . .contentment at being in this place at this time with these kids and these people. The memories we are creating now are one of the greatest gifts we can give our kiddos. And in all reality. . . that is a feeling that is hard to beat.