In December of 2009, my Maddie was only 2 months old. I was a new mom, and I began to worry about the responsibility of Christmas. My own childhood memories of Christmastime are fond. Magical, really. “How did you do it, Mom? How did you always make Christmas so magical?” I remember asking my mom.
“Oh, I don’t know, Dana,” she replied thoughtfully. “It just happens.”
I took a moment yesterday to pause in the hectic pace of the holiday season, and I knew my mom was right. The magic of Christmas has come to the Murphy house. It just happened…
It happened because a few weeks ago, we pulled out the dusty Christmas boxes from the garage, and we decorated our house. A myriad of holiday trinkets – some old, some new – add a feeling of warmth to our house. The old ceramic Santa face that adorned my childhood home now hangs proudly in our living room. The tree twinkles brightly in the corner, each ornament holding a story of its own. The Frosty the Snowman cookie jar, chipped but still cheerful, was passed down to me from my mother-in-law. He now watches carefully over our kitchen. He sees Maddie running downstairs each morning to move the candy cane on the “Days Until Christmas” decoration which hangs on the kitchen wall. “Four more days!” Maddie announces. My husband spent many weekend hours decorating the outside of our home with lights and a Rudolph and some snowmen. If you drive past our house in the evening, you might catch two little faces in the window, watching the blink-blink-blink of Rudolph’s nose.
It happened because our family calendar began filling up with fun things to do. We went to my husband’s work party where the girls got to sit on Santa’s lap and eat candy canes and dance. We bought tickets for the Polar Express and took a snowy train trip to the North Pole. We saw aunts and uncles and cousins who I know we don’t see often enough at our annual family Christmas party. Santa had been there before us and left a small gift for each child under the tree. There were cupcakes and cookies and sweet things to eat at every turn. Maddie had a special night out with Mommy and Daddy to see Rudolph, the play, at a theatre in downtown Chicago. There has been ornament-making and baking and shopping and wrapping. Most days, you will find Maddie and Kate dressed in tights and a skirt made of tulle. If you ask, they will each do a little twirl to show off their pretty outfit.
It happened because Mommy and Daddy each got a long break from work. And this, I think, has created the most magic of all. Among the bustling of getting ready for Christmas, we suddenly have time. Time to play the Rudolph board game we found in the closet. Time to watch the Grinch and Rudolph and Frosty on TV. Time to let Maddie and Katie wrap their own presents and use lots and lots and lots of tape. Time to play Polly Pockets. Time to play in the snow with Daddy. Time together. There is an easiness and a sense of calm in the Murphy house that, unfortunately, isn’t always here. If you stop by one evening, you’ll notice it, too. You will find the four of us together, and you, too, will feel the easiness in the air.
My mom was right. It just happened. The magic of Christmas happened – almost on its own – when we started listening to Christmas carols in the minivan and when Katie learned that Santa says “ho ho” and when my husband took an entire week off work. It just happened. And it’s beautiful.
Merry Christmas. Enjoy the magic.