About a week ago, Emily was sitting in my room with me while I was wrapping gifts to go under our tree. She was talking about how excited she was and I, in turn, was telling her how excited I was to see her so happy. What followed was a conversation about the difference between being a kid at Christmas and then a parent at Christmas.
I mentally went over my childhood holidays and have to admit they were always happy. My parents divorced when I was 4 years old but together, they both made sure our Christmases were special. My Daddy would always lay down with me on Christmas Eve until I fell asleep and it was the one night a year he did that. I loved having that time with him. My brother and I would inevitably wake up at some ridiculous hour to find too many gifts under the tree to count! Santa had arrived! One year I’m POSITIVE I saw Rudolph on the roof our of neighbors house but to date, nobody believes me. By the time my brother and I had gotten up, my Daddy had gone so we’d wake up Mom and spend early mornings with her. More amazing parent time that I’ll never forget. We’d play for a while with all that Santa had brought us then get dressed to go spend the afternoon with my Grandmother. More fun, more gifts, more family time, great food. Every year I can remember was like this and I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life. As I got older, things changed of course but still we had a wonderful time with each passing Christmas.
Fast forward to the day I became a parent. Most of you know about my first daughter Sydni. She was born in September 1996 and died in January of 1997. Her one and only Christmas we were able to leave the hospital for a day and spend it at home. She had gifts, we made sure there was a tree lit for her and that particular year we spent a very quiet day at home – my Mom, Sydni and myself. My Daddy and stepmother stopped by for a bit but I don’t recall any other visitors that day. She was so sick and while Mom and I both tried our hardest to be cheerful, it was difficult but it didn’t take away from the feeling of being a parent and making Christmas happen for my child. It is a whole new level of happiness and joy.
I see myself in Emily a lot. I see how her eyes twinkle and light up when she sees the Christmas tree, I watch how excited she becomes talking about opening gifts and I’m completely in love with everything about her. She knows that now she’s older it is Santa’s job to deliver to little ones and while he still keeps an eye on her, it’s up to me and Grandma to make her Christmas happen. She doesn’t seem to mind.
Being a parent at Christmas is, to me, far better than being the kid. I had incredibly happy holidays while I was growing up but would I go back? No way. I’m quite content where I am right now being Emily’s Mom and seeing her happy. There is no better joy in the world!
Our tree this year. More gifts have been added since this was taken!