The Spirit of Christmas

 

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card design and printing c/o River and Bridge

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How sweet it was to open our very first handmade gift that Wesley made for us at preschool.  It was a set of hand painted greeting cards. I may have shed a tear or two.

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05-DSC_1202Please note my temporary solution to not yet having hung photos above my fireplace. Don’t judge #stillunpacking.

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We have this little snowman ornament for our tree that we pull out every year.  It’s our “first Christmas” ornament—the one we got on our wedding day.  The two snowmen are hugging with the year 2006 and our names hand painted at the bottom.

I remember our first Christmas tree.
After we had only been married a few months.
It was sad actually.
Wider than it was tall.
Waaay too many branches.
Not enough ornaments.
And it leaked water all over our carpet.

After we spent nearly 3 hours wrapping it in lights and patching the hole in the tree holder, I remember going into the bathroom of our tiny one bedroom apartment and crying to myself. I was failing at this whole Christmas thing…I just knew it.

Growing up, Christmas in my house was always perfect.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. Literally.
Every present had perfectly shaped bows and coordinating paper.
And our tree looked straight out of the Macy’s display window.
I had big shoes to fill.  And my overgrown, stumpy tree was a reminder of how much I had to learn about running my own home.

I remember looking myself in the mirror, wiping away those newlywed tears and making myself a promise.  Next year I would do better.  And then I walked out of the bathroom, grabbed the snowman ornament and with a smile on my face I hung it on our pathetic little tree.

Now, nearly 7 years later, I can look back and laugh.
Laugh at how trivial it was to cry over an ugly Christmas tree.
How trivial it was to allow my lack of design skills to dampen my Christmas spirit.

This year was our sweetest Christmas yet.
The Spirit was strong in our home.

It was a Spirit of gratitude.
A Spirit of sweet innocence.
A Spirit of magic.
A Spirit of precious moments.
A Spirit of twinkling lights and bright smiles.
A Spirit of giving.

Our children are at the age where their dreams are simple.
And as parents, there is a very small window where we are still in a position to make their dreams come true.
Perhaps that means unwrapping a train set or a play kitchen.
Perhaps it means feeling the wonder as we see that Santa has eaten his treats and the reindeer have left behind crumbs.
It’s a beautiful gift we’ve been given…as parents.

How lucky we are to be able to give our children the gift of magic.
And our Christmas this year was, in a word, magical.

At one point, I was doing dishes in the kitchen and I could hear Wesley giggling in the other room.  I looked over my shoulder to see him playing Candy Land with his Nana (my grandma)—just as I had played with her when I was his age. He had the rules all wrong. He was speaking in half gibberish to a grandma who needed to have her hearing aides on full blast to make out even a few of his sentences.  And while I’m sure neither of them were speaking the same language, I could tell from the joy in their faces that they understood each other perfectly.  The language of love was strong in our home this Christmas.  And as I watched my Grandma playing with my three year old by the fire, I bottled up that moment and promised myself I would never forget it…that I would save this memory for a future Christmas…and future Christmas when I’m not as lucky to look over my shoulder to the two of them playing innocently by the fire.

Later that afternoon, after all the presents had been opened, Ben pulled out a small package that wasn’t under the tree. And as he balanced Sawyer in his arms, he placed it in my hands.

Ben: This one’s for Mommy.

My eyes filled with tears as I opened a new ornament for our tree.
A snowman ornament like the one from our first year of marriage.
But this one was different.  This one was bigger.  This one was wiser. This one understood the true Spirit of Christmas had nothing to do with the symmetry of our tree or the quality of our gift wrapping.  Because this one had two more little snowmen on it. One toddler, and one baby.  This ornament was our family. A family of four. And my heart nearly burst as I thought about how far we had come.

I handed it to Wesley and told him to hang it on the tree. The tree, that even six Christmases later, still has lots of room for improvement before it’s Macys display worthy.

And as we watched Wes hang the snowman family on a branch that already had three ornaments on it, I turned to Ben and smiled.

Me: It’s perfect.

Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

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Comments

  1. Who’s judging? I am SO in love with your fireplace! It’s so quaint and beautiful!! Merry Christmas!

  2. Haleigh Barrett says:

    So beautiful Ashley. Soooo beautiful. Makes me excited for a future family. Thank you for sharing!!

  3. You just made this momma cry. You’re a beautiful writer.

  4. I love this post! I actually just wrote a post that reflects something very similar to your first year of marriage- probably because this is my first Christmas with my husband. I may see a trend ;) I was burning numerous batches of cookies and failing at catching the Christmas spirit this year, but I sincerely loved this post and I’m hoping that I won’t get so caught up over trivial things in the future. Merry Christmas!

  5. Aww, your story is so sweet. You are dong a fantastic job making your own Christmas traditions for you and your family. I have been married what feels like forever and I still have our first ornaments that we had on our small table top Christmas tree when we were first married and living in his parents home. Have a wonderful New Year’s!

    Jessica

  6. Oh my god, your little one looks so much like Wsley <3 They're the cutest boys I have ever seen. Seeing their little dimples always makes me happy.

  7. Love your post. I used to love Christmas but now it’s seems the magic has gone out of it. My fiancé thinks it’s “stupid”. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get the magic back? I remember laughter at the dinner table and that made my heart full of joy-those are the memories I bottle up. Thanks for the post Ashley.

  8. Beautiful card! And beautiful post!

  9. Your story reminds me of our first Christmas and I was going to fix the turkey. I was so proud of myself till I realized I forgot to take the bag with the neck, etc. out of the turkey. I cried and cried but it tasted really good. So I think we can all remember funny things when we were younger, but that is part of our wonderful memories. Have a Happy New Year.

    • I forgot to mention that I buy an ornament each Christmas for my children and when they got married, the first Christmas I gave them all of their ornaments for their first tree. I stll get them ornaments to take home.

  10. Your tree is so beautiful!! Love the colors with the white lights! Sounds like you had a warm and wonderful Christmas Holiday. :)

    xoxo,
    misty

  11. That smiling picture is TOO PERFECT. I love the straws too!! Merry Christmas to your lovely family :)!!

  12. Why do your posts make me cry?! Very touching and a great reminder of what is important. (And in your photo collage I love the picture of your son reading a book to your baby–so sweet!)

  13. I love this post…you are so well spoken Ashley – it’s always a gift just visiting your blog.

  14. Ashley, your words always speak straight to my heart. Thank you for eloquently capturing the joy of Christmas. I have two little ones as well and you are right, we only have so long to be their heroes and make their dreams come true. What a special blessing. Merry Christmas!

  15. What a sweet post! We have those family ornaments and its so amazing to watch them change over the years. I had that mental “snapshot” moment teaching my 3 year old how to ride her first bike. All kinds of magic.

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