We went to paint our Christmas ornaments a few weeks ago. We got one for our family -- an angel -- and one for The Lad's first Christmas, a tree. The Boy ended up painting the tree black.
It was a physical effort for me not to snatch the brush out of The Boy's hand. But I did it. I let him paint the damn tree black.
I love Christmas. I love the lights and the smell of pine and the glitter of ornaments. I love wrapped packages and the sound of tearing paper and the oh! of surprise after a good one is opened. I love baking cookies; I love eating cookies. I love spending time with family and the holiday's messages of love and peace.
I love all those things because I had such lovely Christmases growing up. They weren't all about the toys, I don't think. I mean, we always had plenty of gifts under the tree, but looking back, it's not gifts that I remember most. It's family. I remember walking home in the cold and the dark, looking at stars, after Christmas Eve at Grandma's. I remember Dad waking us up every Christmas morning because he couldn't wait any longer. I remember sending Dad on a scavenger hunt for his presents. I remember the look on Mom's face the year Dad surprised her with a diamond ring. (OK, maybe that's a gift, but it was a very special and unexpected one.) I remember burning my tongue on monkey bread not even out of the pan. I remember Cookie Days.
I want my boys to have special Christmases. I want them to remember more than the loot Santa and the grandparents send. So, I make a big deal about trimming the tree and making ornaments and baking cookies. Right now, The Boy is sitting next to me on the couch, up late and cuddled with his blanky to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.
But I've noticed myself getting cranky this holiday season because I feel like the sole repository of Christmas cheer. I'm the damn Christmas elf. It doesn't help that we've had a plague on our house; everyone's been sick. But like most mothers, I've been the one buying and baking and wrapping and planning. The fact that it's by my own design (The husband offered to address cards: No, I said, people have to read them. I did let him wrap a couple things.) doesn't stop me from feeling put-upon.
It's taken a concerted, physical effort to stop, breathe, ask for help and just enjoy the damn moment instead of worrying about everything being perfect. Sometimes not quite perfect is pretty good.
Of course, I'm still going back to paint The Lad a real first Christmas ornament. Poor thing shouldn't have everything taken over by his brother.