I cried when Christmas break was over.
When my big babies were little babies, I cried when it was time to go back to school. The part of the song that goes “and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again” didn’t apply to me. I could wait. I wanted to wait. In fact, I wanted a do-over. I loved having my kids home for those few weeks. Not every minute, but most of them.
There was a time, long ago, when I remember running into one of my neighbors on the morning when I had just returned my three kids back to school after a long, lazy and happy Christmas break. I stopped to say hello and then she asked me “how was your holiday?”. I smiled and said “fine”…and then, something, a big lump developed in my throat and before I knew what hit me, I was in tears. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I was already missing my kids and it was only a few minutes since I had dropped them off at school! I knew that time was caving in and my life was getting ready to take a new turn…and I was nowhere near being ready.
It’s Christmas and I am missing the days when tiny feet would run through the house with excitement. I am missing the days when I could pull out phrases like “You better be good! I have a check-in call with Santa tonight!”. I am missing the days when I would be absolutely exhausted running from one school Christmas pageant to another…from a preschool party complete with macaroni noodle necklaces to helping in one classroom (or multiple) to make red and green picture frames and stopping back home to make Christmas cookies in between. I miss those days.
My heart hurts a little as I write this, longing for the spirit of Christmas to fill my house with happy voices, sweet sounds of giggles, introducing the kids to my favorite Rankin/Bass Christmas shows and wonder of the Season. I’m even longing (a little bit) for that damn Elf on the Shelf.
I’m feeling nostalgic…but grateful.
I still try to lure my big babies into watching my favorites…only now, we also include National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Elf at the top of our list. And, each time we watch, I say “Look what’s on! I haven’t seen this one yet!”…even if I’ve already seen it 100 times this season. And, each time, they roll their eyes.
I don’t care. I’m grasping at straws. Grasping to hold on to just “one more” time…
…pulling down all the decorations from the attic.
…unwrapping each Christmas tree ornament with excitement
…finding the lump of coal in dad’s stocking (again)
…filling the house with scents of Christmas candles, cookies and hot chocolate
…sneaking gifts “from Santa” from my car to our bedroom before little eyes could see
…showing up in the carpool lane with antlers and big, red nose decorating my mini-van
…our annual Christmas Eve Mexican food dinner featuring Grandma’s famous tostadas
…the kids exchanging silly Dollar Store gifts to each other
…Christmas Eve Mass with everyone dressed in coordinating holiday best.
There will be new traditions to come. I know there will be, but for now, let me just sit here and feel nostalgic. Let me just breathe in the memories and sounds and smells of my favorite time of year…before they are gone…again.