Friday, December 30, 2016

GIVE THEM WONDER


We packed away the final ornament and as soon as I turned my back, I heard the attic door slam and my heart deflated a little.

The older I get, the more faded the details from my past – the depth of time between now and then slowly dissolving details that were once clear. Like classmates’ names, birthday parties, the expansive layout of our ranch-style home in Oak Forrest. But there are memories that still stand solid – so precious, they have withstood the test of time, molded with the same magic and awe that accompanied them many years ago.

I remember every Christmas.

There weren't lists of meaningful family traditions per se, but I remember feeling like I was lit from within at Christmastime. I felt extra tucked-in. Safe. Warm. It was the best of everything.

Being a parent myself, I realize just how much work it must have been for my dad – hiding gifts, touring the neighborhood lights, visiting family, picking out a fresh cut tree and keeping it watered, and the deliberate effort of creating what he wanted me to feel -- special. He didn’t bake, decorate gingerbread men, or doll me up for professional photos with Santa. But still, it was special – not just for him, but for me. And that’s ink on the pages of both of our stories.

There’s a reason I remember childhood Christmases so vividly and hold a candle to them as well. Those storybook memories hold the broken ones together – like the year my mother died, when we lost every penny we had to theft, or the times things didn’t make much sense – but they carved deep grooves in my character. They etched the great worth of family, friends, and good health into my soul.

December continues to open the wardrobe door to a magical other world. The very essence of childhood – a sense of wonder, imagination, the innocent belief in possibility, creativity – so many of the things that gradually wane with age are always at their prime this time of year.

I want my kids to somehow experience that intangible feeling that something special is underway. I'm both desperate for it and I hate it. I fight the shine even as I fork over money for new stuff – toys, toys toys, and a fancy vacuum system with its own remote control.

I tell myself we'll lounge around and eat like kings, or maybe like the judges on Master Chef. I categorize a three-columned grocery list and burn a three-wick candle. I bake things. I buy a new puzzle. I build gingerbread houses with a 2- and 5-year old and pretend it's not frustrating at all.

I am writing their books. And while they might not remember the designer painted walls of their nursery or the framed art that hangs across from the crib, I am doing everything possible to ensure they’ll remember the magic and wonder of traditions that draw us closer – a time of year that finishes the common stitches of our everyday memories with fine handiwork and colorful thread that won’t be forgotten.

We are the author of their storybook, moms and dads, writing memories and elements of their character every day. Make it meaningful. Give them wonder. 

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