Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jolly Holidays

I find comfort in the Christmas holiday season, in traditions old and new, in decking the halls and in trimming the tree. I love to get out the boxes of decorations and ornaments....retelling, once more, the stories behind each & every ornament. Carefully hanging the treasured stockings from their hooks, cuddling while reading or watching favorite holiday tales, placing vinyl clings on windows, strolling down Main Street to take in window displays, joining our quaint community for caroling and tree lighting, and participating in the annual Parade of Lights. It's activities like these that fill my heart with the spirit of the season.

This year, not only have the girls & I revisited some of our favorite activities and traditions, we have also started some new ones. One of those was to try our hand at glass ornament painting. While it took a few bulbs to develop our technique, we had a wonderful time and created hand-made gifts sure to be enjoyed by friends & family alike. The girls will be giving a couple as gifts to girls in the Girl Scout troop while the majority will be traveling the friendly skies to be given as presents to their aunts, uncle & grandmother in Michigan.

One of my goals for this year was to help the girls to understand how fortunate they really are. So, one of the things that we did was give to two of my favorite charities--Operation Christmas Child & Toys For Tots. For Operation Christmas Child, we filled a large shoe box with simple items and a few treats for a girl in need. I think it was a wake-up call to Caitlin that some children do not have such basic items as a toothbrush or a box of crayons. Toys For Tots in our town tries to fill up a school bus with toys for children in our local community who would otherwise not receive a gift (or not many) on Christmas. I took both girls shopping where we selected a gift for a little girl--picking out a very cute doll. Then we drove to where the big bus was parked and Caitlin presented our donation. She saw the volunteer put it on the bus and remarked that while they had come a long way towards filling the bus, that there was still quite a ways to go and that she hoped many other people would help. I made a point of telling her approximately how many children in our county would, most likely, not have a Christmas like the one she would. I really think it's important for children to understand how fortunate they are and to really embrace the true meaning of Christmas--love, humility, charity, thankfulness, togetherness, giving and so much more. Hopefully, Caitlin does understand that Christmas is about more than gifts under the tree. When Cara is older and can understand, I will be teaching her these same lessons. In the meantime, she can just tag along and hopefully absorb what is being said and done.

We also have plans to make an actual gingerbread house (well, it's a kit least it's real gingerbread), visit Santa @ his cabin and make treats to hang in the trees for birds and other woodland creatures. I am really looking forward to making memories and creating new traditions with the girls.

This year, the girls will be making precious memories with their father & his side of the family as they are to spend a week, right around Christmas, with him in Michigan. Stockings are to be decorated and hung from the mantle and new traditions started for them there. No doubt, they will have a wonderful time and be spoiled both with gifts and love. The girls are very excited to see their aunts, uncle, little cousin and grandma. While I will miss them terribly, I cannot wait to hear the stories they were surely tell of the magical time they had in Michigan.

The girls & I will be having our intimate Christmas here in our cozy apartment next weekend prior to their departure for the midwest. I cannot wait to see their eyes light up when they see the carefully-selected, and brightly wrapped, presents under the tree. Christmas really does live in the heart of children in so many ways.

This time of year means something different to everyone. To me, it embodies everything good in the world and celebrates the values that I hold dear all while cherishing the birth of a true miracle. What does this season mean to you?


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