Today is my favourite day of the year. As a child, Christmas Eve was the best day of the holidays for me, because I always felt disappointed on Christmas Day when the presents were opened and it was all done for another year. Christmas Eve was the culmination of the magic, the peak of anticipation for what was still ahead, and I've always been a sucker for the dark of the night contrasted with the glow of the tree and the other twinkling lights.
I love to see the excitement of Christmas in my kids' eyes now. I can see that they are reflecting back a portion of my dreamy anticipation, and that knowledge makes me feel warm and tingly all over my body. I am keenly aware that the memories they are forming now will be the foundation upon which they will build all of their future Christmas experiences.
I want them to start out with the sturdiest memories I can possibly provide for them. They won't remember everything we did, but I want them to remember how they felt at this time of year. If I'm stressed and irritated, that feeling will attach itself to their future memories, and the same is true if I'm relaxed and as excited as they are. I try to get all of the work of Christmas done before December 1st, as much as possible, so that I'm not complaining about baking, wrapping, shopping, decorating, card mailing or any of the other things that consume our time as women in December.
Some of my childhood memories of Christmas center around the stress of the workload, and I would rather not do the work if it seems like drudgery and lowers my Christmas spirit. Starting earlier is the best cure I know for not being stressed in the third week of December. It works for me because I am a hyper-organized control freak (not a very good quality in general, but it does help me out at this busy time of year) and I recognize that we are all different and can make Christmas work in many different ways. I just want to be aware of what my kids will take away from the mood in our house over the holidays. I would prefer that they recall laughter instead of anger, playing games instead of traipsing around shopping malls, and a sense of fun rather than duty.
This year I fought hard for the opportunity to give my kids the kind of Christmas I have long dreamed of having as a family of four. It's always a struggle to try to balance your extended family's happiness, and this year I staked out exactly what I wanted for my immediate family. That might be why I'm so thrilled about everything this December, and more relaxed and peaceful than I've ever been before.
I have traveled further within myself over the last few months, covering ground I didn't know existed, and becoming lost and afraid many times when I couldn't find any signposts to lead me safely home. But eventually I got here, where I carved out this space of love and joy for me, my husband and my two precious children. This Christmas Eve, I wish everyone the magic of childhood, regardless of your age, and the joy of peace and acceptance deep within yourself, and hope for a safe and bright tomorrow.