This might be my last “magical” Christmas.
What I mean is, my daughter is 8. She believes in the magic. The glorious, maddening, exhausting magic of Santa and reindeers and that annoying little “Elf on the Shelf.” She has the light in her eyes and excitement in her voice. She’s “in it.” I mean REALLY “in it.” Which means, as hermother, I am in it, too. She’s the youngest of my two girls and all of the cousins. My oldest daughter, nieces, and nephews are in various stages of young adulthood ranging from high school, to newly married. “FiFi”, as we call her, is our “little one.” She is the one who bounces out of bed every morning to get the next chocolate out of her Advent Calendar.
Like most of us, I’ve been preoccupied with my Holiday “to do” list that includes the usual tasks that make all of us parents harried: trimming the tree, writing the cards, baking the cookies, buying the gifts, wrapping the presents, attending the parties, cleaning the house, paying the bills.
However, among all of the craziness, it hit me this year that this might be it.
This might be the last year that I see a letter lying around the house to Santa that lists toys that I have no idea what they are. (What is a “Zoomer”, for instance?) This might be the last year that I jolt out of bed at 4:00 am because I forgot to move “Cinnamon” and “Ginger”, our “Elf on the Shelf” duo. This might be the last year I take the bite out of the cookie she left for Santa. This might be the last year that I can say, “You know, I thought I heard the dog barking at the chimney last night…”
This might be the last year to follow the NORAD Santa Tracker all day on December 24th. This might be the last year that I can explain with complete authority the difference between “Mall Santas” (The real Santa contracts them out sometimes) and “The Real Santa” (He’s busy supervising the toy making and subcontracting with Target and Amazon for some of the more high-tech items that the elves may not be trained on making).
This might be the last year that I can buy toys and silly treats and wrap them in secret wrapping paper and write my daughter’s name in “Santa’s” handwriting.
This might be the last year in which I have to explain the physics of Santa coming through the front door, if a chimney is not accessible to him.
Don’t get me wrong; it’ll be a good Christmas. My extended family will be here and we’ll eat too much and be loud and obnoxious. We’ll mess up the house and laugh until we cry. We will try to avoid topics like politics..but someone will slip up. We will mercilessly tease the dogs and try to put reindeer antlers on them. We’ll make fun of each other in a good-natured way. We’ll play games and yell at my father for cheating. We’ll tell our favorite family stories, like the time my mom found my dad cleaning the toilets with her kitchen vegetable brush, or the fact that I frequently get baking powder and baking soda mixed up when I’m baking Christmas Cookies. We’ll make references to my 6’7” nephew resembling the abominable snowman and make him put the star on the tree.
My sister and I will sneak Bailey’s into our coffee and start giggling progressively through the night to a point where everyone else says, “What is so darn funny, you two?” We will accidentally throw gift cards away in the trash and then subsequently dig through it to find them. We will return chocolates with bites out of them because we got the “coconut cream one” instead of the “caramel one.” We will watch “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” and then later at night, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” We will cry remembering my mom who has been gone for two years now. We will discuss the true meaning of Christmas and attend mass and reflect on how thankful and fortunate we are.
It will be wonderful, I have no doubt. But it might be the last “magical” one.
The last one where we all get to act out our part in a play that is meant to be performed solely for a beloved little girl. “Look FiFi….I see reindeer footprints,” her grandpa will say. “Santa gave uncle Josh socks?! He must be on the naughty list,” someone will exclaim.
I know that some day there will be great nieces and grand-babies, and I’ll get to see the Holiday through a child’s eyes again. My heart will be filled with love as it always is this time of year. But, this might be my last “magical” Christmas and that heart…as full as it is…is going to break just a little bit knowing that.