Enjoying the Countdown of Magic
Creating Traditions For All Ages
December 01, 2010It is the official countdown to the holidays and, like many moms, I am in charge of making all the holiday magic this month. I do love all the family traditions - baking cookies with my girls, trimming our Christmas tree, all the special school Christmas programs — I love the "countdown of magic" in December!
Knowing that they are growing up too fast, I try to embrace all the fun traditions like sprinkling reindeer "food" on our lawn and sending their Christmas letters to the "North Pole." What I have learned, however, is that what I think it making an impression on my kids may not be what they define as "Christmas magic." Case in point, every year that my husband and I have been married, we have gone to Lowe's for our Christmas tree. It's not very Norman Rockwell, I know, but we've always had good luck finding a decent tree that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
Every year, my husband hauls the tree to the top of the car and secures it with twine and placing the excess twine inside the window so it doesn't flap around. One year, he handed the excess twine to my oldest daughter, who was three at the time, and jokingly instructed her to hold onto it to make sure the tree stayed on the roof. When she expressed her concern that she wasn't strong enough to hold onto it, we told her that her Christmas magic would give her strength. So she held on tight, and when we got home without incident, she said, overjoyed, that she couldn't wait to do it next year. And so, year after year, we have loaded up the car and headed to Lowe's for our tree, and each year our daughter has assumed this sacred responsibility, ultimately sharing it with her baby sisters. "Don't worry," she'd say with her big-sister authority. "Your Christmas magic will make the tree stay on." And year after year, my husband and I have chuckled to each other as their white knuckles intently grasped the twine.
Okay, so fast-forward to Christmas a few years ago. We have been going to Lowe's a long time now. And, nothing against Lowe's, but I was ready to change it up a bit. I spent weeks researching Christmas-tree farms. I called, I Googled. I looked into every tree farm in the area to find the one that would yield the perfect Christmas experience for our family. After all, we had three kids by then; it was time to start the perfect family tradition! When I was satisfied that I'd done enough legwork, I announced with some excitement that we were going to start a new family tradition: picking out our Christmas tree at a tree farm. We would cut down our own tree, sip hot chocolate, and have our picture taken with Santa's reindeer. It would be—you guessed it—the perfect Christmas tradition...the ultimate magical moment!
In one second flat, my two oldest daughters dissolved into tears. "No, Mommy!" they begged, barely able to spit out their plea between their sobs. "We don't want to go!" "What?" I said, shocked. I couldn't make sense of the moment. Had they misheard me? Did they miss the bit about the hot cocoa and the reindeer? Did they not know about all my hard work, all my planning?? I asked, "Why?" "We want to go to Lowe's and hold the twine!" wailed my seven-year-old. My five-year-old seconded that: "Yeah! We want to use our Christmas magic to keep the tree on the roof!"
I was floored. Lowe's, with its bright, fluorescent lights, its metal shopping carts, and its vast parking lot, was perfect tradition to me—but total perfection to my children. So needless to say, we went back to Lowe's to get our tree; unbeknownst to me, a perfect Christmas family tradition had been born!
So with that, I encourage you to take notice of how your children view it through their eyes this holiday season. Most of the time, they could care less if the bow matches the wrapping paper or if the cookies are on the right Christmas plate. What they feel, that we need to remember, is the magic of being together and creating it in the first place!
Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for Moms and author of "Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity." Visit her Web site at www.Mommy-Magic.com.