Although this time of year can get crazy and chaotic, it’s also magical.
Maybe it’s because I have two almost 2-year-olds (gulp), but everything feels so much more festive these days.
Even simple things like sharing peppermint hot cocoa on chilly nights makes me feel spirited and jolly.
I’m not sure when it happens, when the holiday magic dies inside us (or in my case, goes into hibernation). It’s probably when that jerky kid makes fun of you for still believing in Santa — but it inevitably happens to all of us.
Christmas became less of a whimsical affair and more of a standard family get-together.
We would all get in the van and drive to my grandparents house, ho-humming all the way.
There was no rush to hop out of bed before our parents were ready and there were no more exuberant squeals at the sight of a plate of empty cookies, a glass of half-drunk milk and remnants of carrots by the front door.
I accepted the void as just another one of those realities we all have to come to terms with as a part of growing up.
Many Christmas’s later, I became a mom and it happened: The magic inside me woke up.
Last year, they were on the cusp of turning 1 and the joy of their first Christmas radiated off them, surrounding them like an aura.
Of course, that meant barricading the tree and only decorating the parts little arms couldn’t reach, but it was what was missing from my life.
Pure and simple joy.
Now, on the verge of turning 2, the way their little eyes widen to catch the sight of a holiday display or a house adorned with lights and the way they stand back in wonder, with their gaze fixed on the twinkling lights of a freshly-decorated tree in the living room (even if it lasts for just a few minutes before the tree comes crashing down onto the dogs), I just love it. I cannot get enough of it.
I want to bottle up their laughter and “ohhs” and “ahhs” as they figure out how to make a snow globe work.
This absolute sense of joy and trusting belief is both powerful and inspiring. It’s what we should all be grasping for, and we could all certainly benefit from tapping into now and then — especially after this election season.
That is my Christmas wish for all of us this year. Enjoy the simple wonder of the season. Slow down and soak it in.
This year, let your gaze linger on the glimmering lights and ornaments as if you were seeing them for the first time. Indulge in the holiday spread and eat all the cookies.
Surrender to the magic this time of year brings and sing all the Christmas songs.
Before you know it, you’ll vacuum those last pine needles out of the cracks between the carpet and the baseboards, Frosty won’t be a snowman anymore and it will be time to start working on your summer body again.
So let yourself believe again — in something/anything; in Santa, in God, in love, in reindeer, in hope.
Let the kids take the reins and show you what this season is all about. Better yet, let them remind you what you once knew, perhaps decades ago.
Let them be little and watch that Christmas movie for the millionth time, because there will come a day when they, too, will forget the season’s enchantment.
Embrace this gift while you can. Fall back in love with Christmastime and all the joy, hope and togetherness that comes along with it.
It feels so good to have the holiday spirit back.
Vanessa Lynch is an Army spouse, mother and a former metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald.