“Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,
Joyful and Triumphant!”
Even though the Holiday has come and gone, I’m still basking in that warm and fuzzy, lingering feeling of love and caring, otherwise known as Christmas Spirit.
Like many folks who celebrate, Christmas is deeply rooted in tradition for me. My European parents have always emphasized Christmas Eve as the more celebrated day of the two. Unlike my all-American friends who opened their gifts Christmas morning, Santa always came to our house after dinner on Christmas Eve. When I was a child we would trade off each year with my Dad’s sister, celebrating in Westchester or Upstate New York with my two, older boy cousins who lived in the woods. By the time my children were born, my cousins had already started their own families and carried on the tradition in their own ways. Ours was tweaked slightly so we could continue to celebrate Christmas Eve with my parents at their home and celebrate Christmas Day, the American way, in my home. Santa’s magical flexibility allowed for him to drop off a few gifts at Nana & Opa’s house after dinner before making his way to our house Christmas morning.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years however, it’s that like it or not, change is the only real constant. You can go with the flow, embracing it the best you can or be miserable.
An incident at the beginning of December unfortunately, made it clear that this Christmas was going to be different, forcing me to rethink how we normally celebrate Christmas Eve. Even though my parents would be celebrating as they usually do with our extended family, being there for us, was not an option. Circumstances beyond our control and careful consideration made it necessary for me to decline the invitation, in effect, displacing us and leaving us with nowhere to be on Christmas Eve.
Each generation tries to do better, provide more guidance and opportunity for their kids but mostly we all just want for our children to be happy. My kids love their extended family. Talking to them about why we weren’t going to celebrate Christmas Eve with my family this year was really hard. And even though after everything my kids have been through, it’s been important to me to try to keep certain things the same for them over the past two years, I realize life is filled with hard stuff. All we can really do for our kids is arm them with the truth and let them know we will always be there to love and support them.
“Sing Choirs of Angels Sing in Exultation,
Sing All Ye Citizens of Heaven Above!”
I believe in magic; Christmas Magic.
It’s the gift that appears from seemingly nowhere and has no tangible existence to speak of, like the unlikely turn-of-events in a situation that you couldn’t foresee working out — working out. It can come in the form of an unexpected act of kindness or an expression of gratitude. It’s when all things align and the view is suddenly clear, making way for something special to occur, like the sighting of a shooting star or the appearance of a rare blue moon.
It’s getting what you need, not necessarily what you’ve been asking for and recognizing it when it shows itself.
I love Christmas because it embodies the spirit of giving (and I don’t mean of things) from one person to another.
An unexpected, greatly appreciated phone call came about a week before Christmas. My Dad’s sister, the aunt we shared Christmas with when I was a child invited me and my children to join her, a friend and one of my cousins on Christmas Eve.
I haven’t spent a Christmas Eve with my Tante Christine in over 20-years.
She hasn’t spent a Christmas without at least two of her four grandchildren present in over 25-years.
This year Christmas Eve was different. None of her grandchildren could be there.
My kids and I needed some family for Christmas.
My aunt, needed some kids.
We — needed each other.
May the Magic of the Holiday Season fill your heart with joy and gratitude, as it did mine.
When I sat down Saturday afternoon to collect my thoughts and start writing, I realized after having been away all week, I hadn’t given the content of this week’s post much thought. Oddly enough, I wasn’t panicked either. It also occurred to me that even though there is still so much going on around me and so much to do, there is nothing pressing, nothing special, nothing terrible and nothing wrong, to write about.
It’s kind of nice when that happens. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it really is kind of nice. Fishing for something would be foolish. I truly appreciate being able to step off of life’s roller coaster every once in a while, for a while. Recharge. Regroup. Rejoice!
In searching my heart for what was tugging, I kept falling back to thoughts of this past week and smiling to myself.
Nothing brings more joy to my heart than seeing children happy.
And having a rather playful heart myself, I’m keen to the sound of mischievous giggles. When the laughter has an 11-year span in childhood and includes kids ages 2 to 13, conspiring in harmony, even better! Catching the moment on camera? Well, priceless!
This week was simple. It was joyful. It was Simply Joyful.
What brings joy to your heart?
Photo Credit #1 The Gift of Joy
Photo Credit #2 & #3 ©2012 Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
I’ve lamented many times before in this space about the concerns I have, the effects all of our new-found technology is having on our youth. I worry about what our kids might be missing in the great outdoors when they’re all cooped up inside, flexing only their fingers in an up-down or side-to-side Wii motion. I worry that they are barely challenging their brains, while their little thumbs fly nimbly across the tiny keyboards of what used to be talking devices but are now mostly used to send text messages in an almost unrecognizable English language. I pine for my own childhood, remembering how much we did with so little, fearing our children are losing the know-how to “making fun”.
Will they even know what “eye to eye” means without thinking of Skype or “face to face” without thinking it is a reference to Facebook ten or even five years from now?
Because of my worries, I make a concerted effort to put my kids in situations and environments where they have to think for themselves and not let Google do it for them. To that end, my post is a little late this weekend as I’ve been busy watching my children have a great time in the great outdoors!
I suppose we could have fought the traffic and crowds and made our way to a Six Flags park only a few hundred miles away like so many other folks. After all, the forecast promised beautiful weather for us New Yorkers, this holiday weekend.
I chose to take them to our little patch of heaven Upstate, instead.
Six Flags eat your heart out! It turns out our 100% kid-made, Slip-n-Soapy-Slide provided hours and hours of wet fun-filled laughter, and entertainment and I am happy to report my worries have been replaced with faith. Faith in our kids. Great faith that kids will be kids during any era! Faith, that when removed from and relieved of, the technological pressures of text-ing, Facebook-ing and Skype-ing and left to their own devices, kids do in fact resort to using their imagination and creativity! Yes, I am happy to report it’s not gone at all.
It just lies in wait for an opportunity to burst onto the scene and show itself.
It was a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend filled with reading, puzzling, grilling and sliding! It was also a time to remember the great sacrifice of those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice that makes such a great weekend possible.
How was your Memorial Day Weekend and what did you do?
Photo Credits #1-5 Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com All Rights Reserved.