I have never been the Christmas magic maker. Deep down I’ve known this to be true, but this is the year it will be completely and utterly apparent to the three other people in my household.
For years on Christmas we have been lovingly surrounded by people who are gifted with making magic with their own two hands. In our families there are skilled cookie bakers, delicious dinner makers, happy decorators, steamy latte makers, and perfect Christmas playlist players. These are the people who set the scene for a day that is different from all of the others.
My gift is being the Christmas magic encourager, the one who is thrilled by every small detail and every contribution, the one who spreads joy just because she is in love with everybody and everything on Christmas day. I also make a mean cup of hot cocoa.
This year we are not gathering with any family for Christmas, because…well, you know why. Without the makers this year, my gift feels unnecessary and I am worried that Christmas will feel like any other day.
A few weeks ago I started a list highlighting all of the special touches others bring to this holiday, determined to check them off so that this Christmas could be just as Christmassy as those that have come before. With every addition, my shoulders lifted and my breath shortened, stress piling as the list grew. And then I arrived at the things I could not replicate.
Who would be the one to pull our children aside and take them ice-fishing or bring them into the late night campfire conversation? Who would be the one to read them a story while asking about their year? Who would be the people reminding our children that they are loved abundantly by so many?
And then I realized why our Christmases past have been filled with magic. It is not because of the things, it is because each one of those things was presented with love.
All of these individual gifts our families bring are magic because they are doing what they love. They love music or baking or decorating or cooking. They love traditions and conversation and being together. Love is the Christmas miracle.
Why it took weeks to re-discover this truth is perplexing. Of course love is what brings the Christmas magic. Christmas is all about God’s loving choice to send us Jesus. I was distracted, though, determined to recreate my children’s Christmas memories, afraid that the changes this year imposes would ruin Christmas.
Trying to recreate the magic by re-creating things is not going to work for us this year, so I finally tore up that list. What will work is embracing our time together and discovering new gifts each of us can uniquely bring to this special day. When you’re with your people, there is no need to fabricate a feeling of Christmas, it is magic because we’re together…and because of the hot cocoa, of course.
Wishing you and your family a relaxing and joy-filled final week of Advent and a hopeful reminder that preparing for Christmas is not about the things but is all about the love.