The icicle lights have disappeared from the rooflines of homes in our neighborhood; the streets are a little dimmer every day. Yesterday I counted the denuded Christmas trees laying in the gutters, next to the garbage bins, in front of my neighbors’ homes. Although I’ve been back to work for a week, tomorrow my children return to school.
The holiday I anticipated for many months and love so much is behind us now.
This was a holiday of tradition. There are so many things our family looks forward to this time of year. Before the end of Thanksgiving weekend we cut down our tree, sucking on candy canes in the car on the way home. The girls enjoyed a tiny piece of chocolate, from their Trader Joe’s advent calendars, with breakfast each morning. We checked the mailbox every day, hoping for a bounty of Christmas cards. We ate meatballs with dark gravy on Christmas Eve and stayed in our pajamas all day on Christmas.
This was a holiday of beauty. I don’t think our Christmas tree has ever looked as beautiful as it did this year. My husband outdid himself decorating the outside of our house with a straight line of big colored lights – the kind I remember from my childhood. It made me smile every night that I arrived home after dark. We were battered by multiple winter storms in December, bringing us black skies and emerald lawns, and delighting the children with double rainbows in the morning on their way to school.
This was a holiday of giving. Our daughters enthusiastically purchased gifts for each other and for us, and their excitement about each carefully chosen gift was contagious. This year Christmas morning they were more eager to present the gifts they’d selected and wrapped than to open their own!
This was a holiday of receiving. Inspired by this post from the blog Gina left the mall, and being someone who is always ready for another cup of coffee, I made a donation to Cup of Joe for a Joe. A couple of days later, I started receiving email notes. Troops in Kuwait and Afghanistan and Qatar were thanking me for the cup of coffee I’d bought them. Every time a new note arrived in my inbox it was like receiving an early Christmas present, and I eagerly read each one to my daughters, my husband, my friends.
This was a holiday of reflection. After the horrific event of December 14, the world just seemed different. I, like so many others, felt that I had lost something. And I felt such acute gratitude – for my children and their joy of Christmas, their curiosity about Santa. For my ability to hear their laughter and to tuck them into bed at night.
Tomorrow morning I will pack lunchboxes with turkey sandwiches and apples. My children will be happy to see their teachers and friends again, and they will bring homework packets home. We will start practicing the piano again and working on their science fair projects. But tonight is the Epiphany, and I’m appreciative of my gifts.