When I was growing up, Christmas was always a much anticipated time for my sister's and I. We tried to stay up late to catch Santa filling our stockings, woke up early to see what had been brought, we ALWAYS went to Christmas Eve service at our church (where we were always given an orange and some Wrigley's gum before we left). And we spent time with each other and our extended family.
Traditions change. Being married, you try to incorporate both spouse's traditions and in doing so, you create new traditions.
I love Christmas. I love the meaning behind it, the magic behind it, and the love behind it. It was a joy to watch Kyle wake up Christmas morning to see what Santa brought, see where the damn elf was hiding (thanks for buying that Mom......), and see his excitement for everything involved. David has never appreciated Christmas morning, known what Christmas was about, or cared to be involved in a long and exhausting day visiting with family. But we drag that silly teenager along with us for the ride anyway.
This year, Kyle knows. He knows who really brings the presents, who really moves the elf, and who doesn't come down a chimney. It's our first year of new traditions here. I'm a little sad. But in actuality, my life is a little easier because of that. Just simpler.
I would have been glad to leave the elf on the shelf this year. But Kyle insisted he wanted to move it. It's December 5th. The elf returned shortly after Thanksgiving and he has already forgotten to move it numerous times (maybe it'll make him appreciate how hard it was for us to remember). He's going to help me fill Michael & David's stockings this year to take to Grandma & Grandpa's Christmas morning. He helped me wrap a few gifts.
Looking back at all of these pictures........I see change. We've moved the location of the tree several times. The kids have GROWN. A lot. We've lost dogs. Most of the big gifts in these pictures are no longer in our home. They've been outgrown and donated or trashed.
I also see consistency. I see gifts the kids need/want under the tree. I see excitement (yet sometimes sleepy) on Kyle's face. I see love.
And while the traditions have slightly changed, the people haven't. I see the same families in the pictures. I see the growth of adding new babies and new pups to our lives. I see cousins who love each other and use Christmas as a time to grow closer to each other.
As the years go on, we will see more change. More growth and probably more loss. But the love will remain the same.
I know that my kids haven't always had a "perfect" Christmas. I've forgotten gifts in the closet, bought things they already own, spent time in a hospital for the holidays with David, yelled at them for stupid stuff because by Christmas morning, every mother's patience has been lost and they just want their kids to LISTEN, wanted to nap instead of opening gifts, and many other seemingly unforgivable things.
But they've always had Christmas. Not perfect. But memorable. And loving. And magical. And enchanting. Some kiddos don't have those things. But mine do. And I feel so lucky.
This year will be more of the same. Imperfect, but perfect. Because we have each other. And we're making memories.
And yes. Right now we are the house on the street with half of our Christmas lights out. We're debating just letting it stay that way or just taking them down. Either way......it'll make a memory.