There have been Christmases that haven’t been easy. I’d be lying if I didn’t ever speak about the hard times. It was never because of a lack of work on either of our parts, it was simply that making ends meet involved a lot of stretching with very little wiggle room.
Lucky for us, we have both been blessed with the gift of creativity, and we’ve learned through our own experiences that “necessity is the mother of invention”. So in the past we’ve stitched and sewn, welded and painted many treasures to gift to hopeful faces. And here’s what gets me…
Those gifts were the most well-loved, happily taken care of things we’ve ever given to our children. They didn’t leave them laying around, letting them be swept up to be discarded. They didn’t lose the pieces or forget about them when they were kicked under the couch.
You see, when you make something for someone else, you gift your loved one your own energy. Throughout the creation of that lifeless thing, you become the energy source, budding with ideas and your finger tips your conduit. And then, when a child tears open the wrapping to find a special doll, made for her by her very own Mama, that doll takes on a life of her own. She is carried to picnics and parks. She travels to the coast and she climbs trees and bakes cookies. She becomes part of the family.
Now, here I sit, years later, with just a little more money than we had during those hard Christmases, not a lot by anyone else’s standards, but enough, in our eyes, for things to be easier. As I count the purchases I’ve made through clicks or debit card swipes, I can’t help but notice they don’t fill the hole that’s inside of me.
What I’ve learned is this…Christmas magic comes from the story that carries it. It comes from how hard you’ve worked to save up to buy that special toy, or how you searched until you found it in your price range. Maybe you’ve been holding onto it since March.
The magic comes from the things that arn’t so easy.
The hard Christmases taught me the most about these things, and although I wouldn’t want to go back to that kind of uncertainty, I wouldn’t trade those years and lessons for riches either because they taught me about generosity and patience, love, friendship and peace. These are lessons that many people will, never understand. They taught me to see beauty in the smallest of places and to love bigger and bolder than I ever have because that is the truest gift I have to offer.
I can remember our first Christmas in this house after Papa Bear and I packed our little family and all of our earthly possessions into our vehicle only to drive 4 hours away from our life.
I can remember how tough it was.
How work was scarce, and how our plans hadn’t worked out the way we imagined. I can remember the worry over how we’d make magic for our children while we were just starting out, again. But we did. There were valuable lessons learned here.
I was so eager to return to this homestead, where I remember family gathering together as a child. I can remember the familiar sound of the back door, and the buffet with the tiny Nanaimo bars that different family members kept passing to me, likely thinking it was my first one of the evening. I remember the smell of toast and coffee in the mornings while my grandparents were visiting…that’s the smell of joy!
I can remember the long walk up the laneway from our home across the street. I remember the cold air and the snow fluffing at my feet. I remember the quiet. I also remember the feeling of being pulled behind my mother on a toboggan. It felt a little unstable at first, but it was alway better than walking.
I remember the way my Great Aunt would greet us at the back door, leading way to the cookie jar in the kitchen, the same kitchen I prepare our daily meals in now (only sadly, with fewer walls as our home has an open concept to it. There was something special about that tiny room. There was a legitimate reason to kick extra bodies out of the kitchen because it simply was too crowded).
These moments are magical to me now as a grown up. I remember very little about the gifts I received at Christmas. There were some spectacular ones, for sure, but what I remember most were the times that I was made to feel special. And sometimes just the normal moments of time together, that no one else likely recalls, but they were important to me.
Perhaps the magic we give our children requires a whole lot less than we think?