Posted in Blog, Featured, Mother, Shawna

My Christmas story

Quinn is such a little sponge right now, and she is sucking up everything having to do with Santa and Reindeer and candy canes and snowmen and gingerbread houses and sleighbells and. . .

It’s really fun. We made santas out of felt, decorated ornaments, made gingerbread, read The Night Before Christmas four billion times. That kid cracks me up that she loves that poem so much. I can’t wait to make paper stars with her, decorate gingerbread houses, and go visit the reindeer at Swanson’s.

But I’ve got to admit, the usual Christmas story has been feeling mighty hollow as I share it with my wide-eyed babe. Very commercial. Heavily sugar-laden. Even more than I thought it was before.

Christmas rolls around and you have this expectant wonder within you, and then you try to pass it on to your kid and you find yourself just talking about presents and a jolly man coming down the chimney, about a freshly-cut tree covered in glowing lights or even about reindeer that can fly and it just falls flat.

The problem is that so much of what’s missing is wrapped up in sensory memory and it’s from your childhood brain. How I can bite into a sugar cookie and remember exactly how it felt to stay up all night waiting to hear Santa’s sleighbells outside my window. How I can smell a Douglas Fir and remember giggling with my little sister as we unpacked our ornaments together. How I can hear someone, anyone singing “Silent Night” and be transformed into my 12-year-old self, standing on the stage in St. James’ Cathedral surrounded by the hush of incense and faith late in the night on the eve of Christmas.

I want to encapsulate that feeling of wonder and share it with my toddler. The sacred music, the beautiful mystery, the promise of peace on earth. You know, the small stuff.

I’m not religious, but I also wanted to share the other Christmas story with her. I told her that Christmas was actually the birthday of a little baby born a long, long time ago. That his mommy and daddy had to work really hard to raise him during hard times. But that he lived a good life. He taught us that everybody should love everybody. We celebrate because we want the world to be full of love and peace.

Music was a big part of my childhood, with both my sister and I singing in the Columbia Girls Choir, and growing up in a very musical family, one that could belt out all five versus to any given Christmas song in perfect harmony, and did.

So singing Christmas songs was one easy way to reach Quinn. I wasn’t sure how much she heard me, but the other day she sang to me:

“Silent Night, Holy Night, it’s very quiiiiiiiiiiiiiet.”

So, we’re making progress. I guess what I have to accept is that I’ll build wonder with her slowly, that she’ll grow her own cadre of sensory memories that make her Christmas. I have to hope that for her this time of year will always be tied intrinsically to family, to love and to wonder, that someday a sugar cookie will transport her that way it does me.


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