15 minutes ago, I was tucking Kendall into bed, except not actually “tucking.” More like tossing a lump of a blanket rumpled inside a duvet cover on him. On the floor. His mattress is still on the floor because we still haven’t put his bed up after moving.
I snuggled up next to him on that mattress. On the floor. Under the lump of a blanket. To my right, my sweet 6 year old, still young enough to delight in me snuggling with him before his sister tonight, but old enough to tell me about the boy who yelled that he hated him on the playground today. To my left, a hideous little Christmas tree that we bought for him when he was just 3 years old.
Er… I mean, our elf, Jake, brought it for him.
The ugly little black and yellow tree (BLACK AND YELLOW SO UGLY OMG) sits in a corner, not a single ornament on it, which is a shame considering all the money we spent on them 3 years ago. Jake the elf brought one ornament a morning for him. One little sports themed ornament to go on his sports themed tree. (I love ya, Mizzou, but you make for an ugly Christmas tree.)
Instead, a large string of lights haphazardly wraps around it, and then snakes through a pile of laundry and over a disassembled bookshelf.
“Why do you think he said he hated you?” I asked him, his profile lit by the multicolored strand of lights in the dark.
“I don’t know. I just… I caught him, I was chasing him,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“Did he want to be chased?” I worried aloud.
“Yes, mom. We were playing chase. It’s okay. I still like him.” He seemed unfazed by this.
“Well, sometimes people say they hate other people when they are embarrassed or their feelings are hurt. I don’t think he actually hates you…. but it IS so important that you are kind, you know? Even if he says that, ” I remind him.
“I know, mom. I am,” he assures me.
We’ve opted out of a lot this holiday season. Our house is without outside lights for the first time since we became homeowners 7 Christmases ago. We got the tree decorated, and the mantle is set with our stockings and framed cards and Santa visit pics. But then we just… stopped. No more. That’s enough. We put the half-full boxes of decorations up in the attic.
There are no thoughtfully decorated little trees in the kids rooms, no string of lights above their beds. If I do any cookie decorating with them this year, it’s likely going to be thanks to this GENIUS little hack, via CoolMomPicks.com that just blew my mind last night.
There is no elf this year. None. Not on this blog, and not in our house.
I’ve got gorgeous moving announcement/Christmas cards from Minted sitting on my counters right now. I’ll mail them out eventually. I hope.
This scaled back approach to the holidays this year wasn’t a noble, conscious decision on my part. Don’t hail me as some wise soul. We struggled and lamented over the lack of lights outside our new house. I’ve felt tinges of guilt over the seeming lack of magic being crafted over here. This move, the timing of it, it’s been difficult in ways like this. (Though difficult isn’t a word I really like to use when describing the move to our dream home- one that I am very grateful to have.)
The magic of the season is so very important to me. I DO believe in Santa.. and in elves. I believe in the joy and whimsy they can add to this special time of year. I want to make magic happen for my children.
But tonight was magic. This month has been magic. The freedom that’s come from not stressing over the making of magic has been magic.
The holidays are not an assignment. Our to-do lists are largely dictated by only us.
Cookies don’t have to be made, nor trees beautifully and thematically decorated, and elves don’t have to be moved.
The magic is in the simplicity.
It’s in the colors of the haphazard string of lights that illuminates my son’s face as we talk about what it means to be kind… even to people who don’t show us love. And I am present. I am truly there. I’m not worried about where I’m going to put the elf next, or if our cards will make it to everyone before the 25th.
It’s entirely possible that next year I will have it in me to craft and create more magic. It’s possible that the elf will come back, and that we will string lights so spectacular around our home that we will win some kind of neighborhood contest. Next year, or the next. But not this year.
This year, the simple magic is enough.
My heart sparked and leapt to write this when I saw the following picture in my newsfeed, posted by a long-time friend/ex-boss of a boss of mine.
If you’re feeling like the simple magic is getting swallowed up by the assigned magic this year, it’s not too late to just… stop. Browse ideas for family Valentine cards, put away those decorations you still haven’t hung. Write an excuse note for your elf.
You’ve got 10 more days to let yourself breathe and enjoy the simple magic.