Just a few days ago I wrote about what I really want for Christmas. It was a list of all the things that, in a perfect world, would be different around my house. That list is spot on. I stand by that list. And yet, as I look back over it, I can’t help thinking about how different that list is from one I might have written ten years ago – when all of my children were small. And the truth is, it made me sad.
Sure big kids are great. They like to stay up late and watch holiday movies with me. They rarely destroy the Christmas tree ornaments. And the girls usually fill their Christmas list cute boots and sweaters that fit me too. Even so, a part of me longs for the days when Christmastime was magic. I miss having a houseful of little people bubbling with excitement and filled with wonder.
I used to wish that I didn’t have to stay up until 2:00 a.m, assembling toys and stuffing stockings. Now I wish someone wanted a doll house for Christmas or a baby doll stroller or a train set. And oh how I wish someone believed in Santa.
I used to wish I could get just a little more sleep on Christmas morning. Now I wish I could hear the pitter patter of tiny feet racing down the hall and the excited squeals of children delighted to see what Santa has brought.
I used to wish for just a few hours to myself to bake and decorate and wrap presents. Now I wish I had sticky fingers in my hair and chocolate kisses on my cheeks. I wish I had a whole new set of Christmas ornaments made out of macaroni and salt dough and goofy school pictures.
I used to wish they would all sit still for a Christmas photo. Now I wish they would all be home at the same time for a Christmas photo.
I used to wish it wouldn’t snow. How tired I got of the bundling and unbundling. The soggy mittens and the wet boots. Now I wish I could see a chubby faced little one trying to catch a snowflake on her tongue.
I used to wish, in spite of the late nights and the mess and the hassle, that they could all stay little just a little longer. I used to wish I could freeze time. Now? Now I still wish I could freeze time. I wish that my boys would always want to wrestle and rough house and make too much noise and rattle my nerves just a little. I wish my girls would always want to stay up way too late and watch schmaltzy Christmas movies with me and cuddle under a pile of blankets. I wish that my family would always go to Christmas Mass together and struggle to all squeeze into one pew. I wish they weren’t all going to be grown and gone very very soon.
No, they are not little anymore, but Christmases around our house are still pretty magical. They are all growing up to be interesting and kind and funny and the type of people I like to hang out with. So, I guess as far as wishes go, mine really are coming true.
For weeks now my kids have been asking me what I want for Christmas. And I have said the thing that I am supposed to say, that I always say – I don’t need anything. I just want all of my children to be happy and healthy. It’s true. I don’t need anything. And I do want my children to be happy and healthy. But they are good children, so no matter how often I say that I really don’t need anything, they will pool their money and buy me a new bathrobe or nightgown, or a maybe well-intentioned kitchen gadget. And I’ll be grateful because I know they are buying me presents because they love me and want to show me that they care.
But here’s the thing. I’m lying. I don’t just want healthy happy kids. Sure that’s the most important thing, but there are a few things that I desperately want. I want ’em real bad. Perhaps it’s not too late to give my family my real Christmas list…
I want everyone to lick or wipe the peanut butter off the spoon before dropping it in the sink. Better yet, lick it off and drop it in the dishwasher.
I want to never hear the words. SHOTGUN! again.
I want to never open the cabinet and find a box with approximately two tablespoons of cereal left in it.
I want a vehicle free of dead french fries and straw wrappers.
I want all the socks in whole world (or at least in my house) to find and keep their forever mate.
I want counter tops free from crumbs.
I want well-fed dogs and chickens and livestock. And I want to eliminate the phrase Did you feed the…. from my vocabulary.
I want to stop pretending that the little flecks of green in the pasta are seasonings. It’s spinach, ya’ll. Okay. It’s spinach. It has always been spinach.
I want to sit down with my coffee or my computer or my book for more than five minutes at time before someone says, “Hey Mamma! Will you…”
I want to always be able to find a pen. And my scissors. And the duck tape. Seriously. Who keeps running off with the duck tape?
I want to stop repeating myself.
I want to stop repeating myself.
I want a TV show that comes on during primetime that I can watch with my whole family and that does not involve wildlife or people wearing cammo – and that will not be interrupted by commercials for tampons, Viagra, or Victoria’s Secret.
I want to learn how to use the television remote control, and I want the kids to forget how to use the television remote control.
I want, just now and then, to arrive at church with a relaxed, well-dressed family at least 15 minutes early.
I want to pray more as a family.
I want to play more as a family.
I want to sit down to dinner more often.
I want to cook from scratch, and I want someone else to clean the kitchen.
I want more nights at home with my family and fewer nights all going in different directions.
I want to slow down time.
Obviously, some of the things on my list are within my family’s power to give me and some are not. But in the end, I know I will get bathrobe or a nightgown or a kitchen gadget. And that’s okay. Because even though whatever I get might not come with a life-time supply of spotless kitchens or perfectly matched socks, it will come with love. And I really could use a new bathrobe.