This is my 21st Christmas as a mom.
A lot of them blur together, but I remember the lead up and excitement for Christmas. Setting up the Christmas tree with the girls; planning what we’re going to buy for their cousins.
I remember all the Christmas traditions we had, like reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever out loud every year, or making new Christmas decorations. And, of course, all the excitement that the 25th will finally come!
But Christmas is different now. I’m not excited about December 25th as much as I am excited about December 21st. Now, the 21st happens to be my 25th anniversary, but that’s not why I’m excited (we’re celebrating in May with a trip, anyway). I’m excited because on the 21st, my girls and my son-in-law come home.
I know many of you are still in the wonderful chaos of Christmas with little kids, but I want to give you some “words of wisdom” from the other side of parenting. When the kids grow up, Christmas will still be about them. But not in the same way.
My Ministry Director’s name is Tammy. I used to call her my assistant, but she’s so much more than that. We were good friends before she started working for me (in fact, I used to volunteer for a church ministry that she was running, so she used to be my boss!). We travel together a lot on my speaking engagements.
And last night she posted this on Facebook, about her daughter who is now 23. (I know her daughter well, too!). I love this, and I think it originally came from the DJ Rick at Country 104.3 in Boise, Idaho (it’s been blowing up all over the internet, but I think that’s where it first was):
My daughter each year asks me the same question. After thinking about it, I have decided I’d give her my real answer:
What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to bring your kids around (when you have them).
I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries, your significant others/spouses, your kids when you have them. I want you to continue sharing your life with me.
Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Y’all laugh at me all the time and I secretly love it. Hearing you laugh is music to me.
I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job.
Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work, I’m pretty proud of it. Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want you to spend your money making a better life for you and your families when you have them because I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy.
When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.
One day the kids won’t be as excited about presents. They may even sleep in on Christmas Day! They may arrive at your house with someone in tow that they want you to meet. They may arrive heartbroken, or exhausted, or stressed, and just need a place where they can crash and be a little kid again.
They’ll probably arrive broke.
They’ll probably arrive with personal issues they’re trying to work through, worries about the future, and things that a full stocking on Christmas morning can’t solve anymore.
But it will still be delightful.
We’ll get to have some fun together. We’ll play games together (I already bought a game that’s all wrapped up in our Christmas Eve bag that we get to open for some fun that night!). And we’ll stay up late, and sleep in late, and laugh and sip hot chocolate.
In fact, all of this makes Christmas even better than it was when they were little, because I appreciate everything now so much more.
Amen and amen!!
I agree! My son is 12…and while he’s still at home, the magic of Christmas is lost on him now. We did Santa as that is all I knew growing up as did my husband…but it’s lost on him now. All he is about is what he’s gonna get on Christmas Morning. I ought to just give him nothing, since thats what he deserves. Sure, he gets good grades in school but I expect that since school is his ‘job’. He expects piles of gifts and since his dad isn’t working, well, that’s not happening.
Kelly, I’m sorry your husband is out of work. That’s very hard.
I suggest viewing your son in a different light. You have established a tradition of many gifts on Christmas. Your son has enjoyed that and is looking forward to it again, this year. If he doesn’t understand how to give at and be thankful for what he has Christmas, you need to ask yourself what you have done to foster an appreciation for giving instead of just receiving. And remember that it isn’t fair to expect children to behave like adults. Children act in childish ways. This year may be hard for him. We’ve all had those growing up moments. And they’re hard! Try to validate his feelings about the big change from childhood to adult. And remember that these things take time.
Christmas isn’t about getting what we deserve. It’s the exact opposite!
Lisa, that is a great response! Though I have no idea what Kelly and her family are going through, I felt sad reading Kelly’s comment. Christmas is my family’s favourite time of year, and it’s not just the presents, although there are a lot of them, and my son starts writing his Santa list in July (I kid you not). Christmas is good food, and pretty lights, tinsel, chocolate for breakfast (advent calendars), watching the special Christmas movies, reading the special Christmas books, listening to Christmas music, and, spending time with family. For us, Christmas starts on the 1st of December, with the first advent calendar window being opened. When it’s time to go Christmas shopping, one of the most special presents we buy is the one for under the ‘giving tree’. A lot of thought goes into that present! To make it more meaningful for our son, he always gifts to a boy of his age, and we love imagining how excited the kids will be to get their gift on Christmas Day.
At my house, Christmas has not been about Jesus, because I am the only believer in the family, and this is only my second Christmas as a believer, so in general that is not what our traditions focus on, although I am certainly spending my quiet time thinking on Him.
Kelly, I would advise having a chat with your boy prior to Christmas Day, about his expectations, a really gentle, Grace filled talk about what Christmas Day is going to look like, because it would be so hard to come out on Christmas morning and not find expectations met. If the talk is done beforehand, hopefully he will be prepared in himself and still able to enjoy a happy day on the Day.
Praying for you.
Omgoodness, that letter is so sweet!
It brought instant tears to my eyes, and made me appreciate my child all over again.
Thanks for posting it.
As a mom to older children ages 20-32 this definitely resonates with me and brings tears to my eyes.
I love this letter!
This letter really pulled on me heart strings. My 4 adult children(20 -26)are still living at home and I still want to write them a Christmas Wish letter.
They are very sweet and helpful (even though they still bicker like kids at times). l love it when they came to me to referee like they did when they were little. Sometimes I just sit and look without them knowing. I would reminisce about how they looked and acted. Because I feel my older ones grew up so fast, now I really pay attention to my younger ones 11 and 14. I’m afraid I’m going to blink and they all will be adults. (Hopefully still not a home though lol).
I’m going to start my letter now. I know I will cry while writing it but it will be worth all the tears.