Friday, December 24, 2010

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care...

Last night, Josh and I sat on the family room floor in the light of the Christmas tree and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped.  We lifted each gift out of its shopping bag, all carefully chosen for a three-year-old girl delighted by puppies and princesses and pink and and a five-year-old boy discovering the wonders of reading and enthralled by toys he can construct, engineer.

Tonight, the kids made an extra-chocolatey glass of milk and chose two of the cookies they decorated to leave out for Santa.  As we headed upstairs for bed, the doorbell rang, and we opened it to neighbors serenading us with carols.  We read 'Twas The Night Before Christmas and the final page of our advent book, which ends, of course, at the manger.

And so, with the kids tucked soundly in bed, Josh and I descended to the family room to make our final preparations for morning.  We brought up all the gifts and placed them around the tree.   We wrapped the last few gifts we remembered we'd stashed in closets and drawers months ago.  And we filled the stockings with their presents from Santa.

The  North Pole contributions were more difficult to find this year.  Abby asked for a "reindeer she could sleep with," and while most years, I feel like I see reindeer everywhere, I must have been in the wrong places this year.  Yesterday, I finally saw a darling, girly reindeer with a red and white polk-a-dotted bow between her antlers: Clarice from the movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  It's soft and snuggly and perfect.

Ben, to our chagrin, asked Santa for a Santa costume.  I knew as soon as he said it we'd have trouble finding the big red suit for a child.  We saw some options online, but they were either expensive or huge, so I managed to pull together a makeshift suit comprised of 1 Santa hat, 2 Santa slippers, and cute Santa pajamas--or so I thought until we pulled the pajamas out of their packaging tonight and found they said, "What Santa doesn't bring me Grandma will."  This little tiding of joy was invisible when I bought them.  Argh.

So in an effort to save the costume, Josh spent part of the evening in the kitchen sewing a patch over these tacky words (I know, I know: domestic diva I am not; Josh is the one who sews in this family).  When he finished, the patch actually looked like Santa's sack, like it could have been part of the original design.  On the patch, we wrote "To Ben, From Santa"--a personalized touch.  How many kids get that?  It's impromptu and imperfect, but I hope the gift is received as wonderful because it's from "Santa."

And this is what it means to be Mommy and Daddy.  We get to create the magic of the season.  We set the tone.  In every aspect, we get to wow and surprise and delight.  And it is our joy to do so.

While wrapping presents last night, I felt such excitement to see the kids open their gifts--a grown-up giddiness not unlike the childlike anticipation I felt when I was little and couldn't wait to open my own presents.  I thought of the verse in James that says, "every good and perfect gift is from above" and gratefully acknowledged that these gifts come not just from me and Josh.  I considered the verse that reminds us that if we on earth know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more the Father in heaven delights in giving good gifts.  And I reveled in the knowledge that tomorrow morning is but a taste of God...not in the tangible items that will be unwrapped and played with but in the Love that accompanies each gift.

It's nearly midnight, nearly Christmas: the stockings are hung with care, we've left the plate of cookie crumbs and the empty milk cup by the fireplace with notes for each of them from Santa, and now we'll head to bed with visions of giggles and laughter and the wonder of our precious little ones in our heads.  In the morning, we'll open stockings, we'll sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus with candles in our coffee cake, and we'll begin the exchange of so much more than commercialism.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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