This is a special time of year for many of us, and in my home the sights and sounds of Christmas have arrived.
I’ve always loved Christmas and everything it brings — whether it’s dashing through the snow on road trips or cuddling up in new pajamas watching classic holiday movies.
Naturally, there are Santa Claus figurines of every ilk watching over my family’s comings and goings. There’s the snowboarding Santa carved from wood. The traditional Father Christmas that plays a carol when you wind it up. The jolly old St. Nick busily wrapping presents in his workshop.
Our tree is festively lit and a growing collection of snow globes is on display around my living room.
I’ve played the fireplace channel, just to hear that comforting crackle, and I’ve lit cedar and campfire candles to rekindle old memories of Christmases past. A growing pile of presents is taking over the nooks and crannies of my bedroom, hiding until we set them out on Christmas Eve.
The mood has been set, and now we wait.
But it wouldn’t be Christmas without lists. Present lists, specifically.
My sons have texted, FaceTimed and called to remind me of the things they’d love to see under the tree. They may not have Sears Wish Books to circle toys in anymore, but they’ve got screenshots of items on Amazon on their smart phones. But it’s all just fine. With their childhoods (and never-ending lists to Santa) behind them, they’re choosing one or two practical things they could use.
New tools have replaced Transformers. Shoes and clothing are rating high this year. One of them wants a decent backpack for an upcoming holiday. These are the lists moms and dads dream of, and it’s happening. If you’re reading this in a toy aisle, or drowning in store flyers, trust me. It gets better.
Oh, and they are asking what I’d like, too.
As the days tick down, we’ve also been mindful that this is yet another milestone we are thrilled to share. After many illnesses and losses in the past few years, our little family has learned to cherish not just the presents under the tree or the delicious food we’ll share around our table, but the moments we’ll be able to spend as a family.
And that means even more than just worrying about presents, we are looking at our calendars and work schedules and figuring out how to get the most of it together.
But that being said, giving always has and always will be a special part of Christmas. It’s got its own magic, and can as enjoyable as receiving. It takes most offspring a while to grasp this, and happily mine are at that wonderful age of early adulthood where they have hopes for nice gifts, but will also be happy to replenish their sock drawers.
That’s because like many, our family has had lean holidays in our times, and ever since then we pay forward the kindness shown to us by others whenever possible. Since my children were tiny tots themselves, we’ve donated a thoughtful gift or two to a worthy cause. This year, we chose to give to a fundraiser for the neonatal intensive care unit at Royal Columbian Hospital, after being moved by a story written by my colleague.
A little stuffed pig has made its way from an online Amazon wish list to a collection point, and will be delivered to a family to brighten up their holidays spent in the hospital. It’s cheerful and small and made us happy to click “buy this item.”
I encourage everyone who can afford it to donate in some small way this year.
Donate time. Donate a toy. Make a scarf. Carry someone’s groceries just because you can.
Because even with all the baubles and trinkets that signal the season, the real gifts are in our hearts.