I already have everything I want for Christmas. The other morning, I picked my son up out of his bed and got a two-minute, full-body hug. His arms wrapped around my neck, legs wrapped around my waist, and head nestled in that space between my shoulder and neck. The house was quiet and we had no where to rush off to. We were both blessed to start the day off on such a snuggly, lovey note.
I walked into the living room, where my husband had turned the Christmas tree lights on, casting the room in a soft, multi-colored glow that reminded me how much he enjoys the holiday season. Turning on the Christmas tree lights is the first thing he does when he gets up in the morning and when he comes home from work. It’s one of his many quirky habits that highlight his endearing qualities. Another is a very annoying, but genuinely loving, way that he hugs me while I’m cooking. The way to that man’s heart is through his stomach and he can’t resist giving me a hug or a kiss, even if he knows he is messing with my cooking flow. He also knows I can’t be mad at him for loving me.
One of my husband’s brightest beacons is the one he shines on our son. Little Stapler is at the point where he loves his mom, but his dad is his best friend and hero. I’m fairly sure that the feeling is mutual. Remember my gift closet inventory? Mr. Stapler’s big gift is a box of 600 LEGOs, to share with our son. He asked for it! It was the gift he wanted the most.
Last Sunday, I met my parents at church for the annual holiday sing-a-long, where we sang Christmas carols for almost two hours in the sanctuary I have known all my life. Little Stapler was singing Ruldolph only a few feet from the place on this Earth where I promised to love and cherish my husband. Even though we were married there, we only recently moved to the area, to be closer to my parents. Before we moved, Little Stapler saw them once every two months or so. Now that we live closer, my parents and my son see each other twice a week. They have developed a wonderful bond, a bond that I fondly remember sharing with my grandmother.
Most Sundays, we go to my parents’ house for lunch after church. Sometimes, our son naps there while I talk endlessly with my mom about everything. We make our holiday plans, catch up on the lives of our family and friends, talk about parenting, growing older, being younger, work, art, and everything else. Re-connecting with my 70-year-old parents and their circle of friends has helped me put my life into perspective. They remind me — without actually saying the words — that life is long. They help me see the bigger picture of my life, or, more accurately, the immensity of the blank canvas in front of me.
My mother hosts a gathering tonight, Christmas Eve. This gathering has ebbed and flowed through the years, with our blessings and our losses, and everything in between. Although our hearts ache with the losses, they burst with the blessings of having shared the laughter and love of this Christmas gathering for decades, a family tradition that we pass down to our son.