I have spent much of the last several weeks fretting. Worrying that I am somehow letting my offspring down with the lack of Santa photos or strolls through the botanical gardens to see Christmas lights. Concerned that I am somehow damaging his childhood- removing a precious year of magic.
Through the ever-present second guessing (and several blog posts trying to sort out my mind) I pressed on. I purchased presents. We decorated the Christmas tree and I forced matching Christmas themed clothing upon Moose at any chance I got.
I also let the bins for said decorations sit adjacent to the tree for two weeks before putting them back in the garage. The exterior lights and wreaths never made it into the light of day. The wrapping paper is still propped in the corner of the living room. Life has been a bit more chaotic this year.
I have made jokes that he won’t line up all of his phots with Santa and make a big deal about the missing year. In all reality, he won’t. But the regret creeps in when I go to get milk from the fridge and see snapshot from years past. He won’t remember, but I will. So I fret.
I just deleted a paragraph detailing how I try to protect this child from the consequences of the adult world. And I do. But that isn’t why we have Christmas festivities. There isn’t some soapbox for me to climb upon. My parenting philosophies have no bearing here. We have them because I love them so. Christmas music makes my heart happy. Festive lights fill me with the same elation they did when I was a child. I love the silly shirts and frivolous decorations. I get more excited about finding the perfect trinket for a person I care for than putting my own list together. Christmas is full of magic. And that magic is what I want Moose to remember.
I write all of this while sitting next to my Monster. He’s clad in a ridiculous sweater, shoving bites of cherry jello into his mouth between clicks of the xbox controller. He just leaned over and kissed my hand. He cares not that the xbox is a hand-me-down from his Uncle. Nor that neither of us truly has any idea how to play Minecraft. I don’t care that he has refused to change his sweater for three days. Our sweet foster kitty has accepted the bowtie I adorned her with four days ago.
Our living room floor is filled with new racetracks, monster trucks, and a LEGO kit to die for. The kid loves them all. There is no doubt about that. But regardless of the newness of said toys, the reoccurring questions remains the same: Mommy, will you play with me?
He reminds me that the toys aren’t what bring the magic. Nor the tree or decorations.
The time is.
Our world slows down a bit the week between Christmas and New Years. We don’t wake up to alarms. We don’t always wear pants. It’s acceptable to wear the same sweater for days on end and snack on cookies and popcorn. I take a bazillion photos.
This week full of laughter and nebulous time (I honestly have no idea what day of the week it is) isn’t built in a vacuum. It’s built on the other 51 weeks out of the year. The kissed boo-boos. The bedtime snuggles. The dinners cooked. The time-outs. The mom voice. The apologies. The reassurances that no matter how much of a jerk he can be, he can’t break my love. The rubbing of painful feet at 2 am. Books read. Routine. The magic of our relationship is built on time.
I was once told by someone that the most precious gift we can give someone is our time. For once it is given, it cannot be recovered. I may not be able to shower those that I care about with lavish gifts. I was not able to bypass a global pandemic for Santa photos. But my time, that I can invest. And for that, Christmas will always posses magic- because we will have built it year after year. With every tear. Every hug. Every re-watch of Minecraft clips. Every time I accidentally fall asleep during the bedtime routine.
Time cannot be wrapped and careully placed under the tree. Attention cannot be adorned with a beautiful bow. But withoout them, the various holiday acoutriments are hollow.
So in the coming weeks and months- I wish you to give your attention with intention.