It's December 26th. The girls are in bed. I've been cleaning and it's gotten me thinking.
This Christmas was unique. I'm not sure why, but I didn't feel Christmassy this year. It may have been the warm weather, the effort of keeping the schedule, the yearly struggle I have with Santa and Jesus. I don't know. But it came up quickly and unceremoniously.
I didn't hear the jingle of the sleigh bell this year. (Polar Express reference.)
To add to my apathy, my Indian Princess developed a respiratory illness two days before Christmas Eve. I missed Sunday and the Christmas Eve services at church. And since my husband is the pastor, I missed that time to connect with him and what he was feeling this Christmas.
As her illness progressed, we reluctantly phoned my family and told them we wouldn't be there for our Christmas celebration this week. There was much crying from my Indian Princess, who like me, finds family time important and something to be cherished. She understood why we couldn't go, but she wanted to go anyway. (My parents tell a story of me at her age, defiantly telling them I would walk to Grandma and Grandpa's house if they decided they didn't want to drive down for Christmas. It was a five hour drive.)
We will Skype that day, but it won't be the same.
And so, because our celebrations are over, I took the tree down tonight. And I wondered if the whole holiday effort was worth it:
The girls, once again, received too many presents.
I, once again, never followed up on doing some act of kindness on Christmas Eve.
I didn't get cards sent out, Christmas baking done, house cleaning finished...oh wait,
that never happens anyway.
The girls said they enjoyed it. And through my Indian Princess' 103 degree fever, I think they did. But I don't really know.
And so, I took the tree down. And as I started taking ornaments off the tree, I realized some things.
I didn't put up 90% of the ornaments this year. The girls put up the ornaments, their dad put up the garland, and I threw up some bows. (Well, not literally, but you know.) So when I took down the ornaments, I got to really see what the girls decided to put up.
The garland and the glass balls were bought to match. About 5 years ago. And I realized this year they match my curtains and wallpaper. As old and boring as they are, it all fit perfectly in our living room. The lights on the tree made them sparkle, and through our window, the whole neighborhood could see the beauty of our tree.
Some of the decorations I took down tonight were ones I had never seen. The handmade ornaments from the 70s and 80s were joined by ones that were made in the past three years, by my little ones. Some of the ones they made this year I don't think I saw until I took them down. They were beautiful. And they fit perfectly with the older ones that have been collected so far.
Some of the ornaments I found were witness to the fun my girls had this season. A barrette, a used bow, and some shredded toilet paper decorated the tree. Some would say creative, some would say lazy. I won't say what I thought. But each of those "decorations" was a memory for my girls this Christmas, and I won't turn that down.
And so I remembered again tonight. Christmas is so different as an adult. And sometimes we do it out of a sense of duty for our kids. But out of this duty comes memories and traditions for them. Woven throughout their lives as a security blanket that wraps around them and reminds them of home. And of who loves them. And of Who loves them.
Because although I may not feel Christmassy, I will sacrifice the time, effort and money for them anyway. I will do my duty, because these hearts belong to me. And they are infinitely worth it. Just as Someone sacrificed much more for me. And although He may not have felt like doing it, the hearts He saved belong to Him. And the results are infinitely worth it.