I LOVE Christmas. This is without a doubt my favorite time of the year. From looking at Christmas lights to shopping for presents to singing carols in church on Christmas Eve, there is nothing I don’t like about the Yuletide. I’ll even admit I get a little sad when it’s all over, although I know it’s really only a short 364 days until Christmas arrives again.

Some years ago, though, I felt much like Cindy Lou Who. The “magic” of Christmas sort of slipped away for me. I would jokingly start singing “Where Are You Christmas?” to my husband, but inside, I really was desperate for the joyfulness of the season to return. At the time, we had been trying to become pregnant for a few years, and it always hit me hardest at Christmas when each gathering seemed to include a new pregnancy announcement. I allowed my feelings to put a damper on the whole Christmas season; instead of focusing on the miracle of Jesus’ birth and all the other wonderful things, I found myself wrapped up in my own problems.

Four years later, however, I’m more like Buddy the Elf. To my delight, I now have not just one, but two kids, and because of them, Christmas spirit is in full swing in our house once again. I want them the experience all the fun and wonder I remember as a child, including eating the daily Advent chocolate, listening to the Christmas story in church, visiting Santa, searching for awesome light displays, and so much more. I cannot even describe to you the joy I feel when I see the excitement in my three-year-old son’s eyes. It has become my favorite time of the year again.

green milk from the elf

One of the best parts is the way we’ve been able to meld together family traditions and start some of our own. This year, we welcomed the Elf on the Shelf into our home. He has been dubbed “Christmas Tree” and while he’s not super creative, he has managed to toilet paper the tree and dye some milk green. Each morning, my three-year-old eagerly looks around for him, and whether the elf got up to some mischief or is just hanging out in a new spot, he finds the whole thing pretty darn neat, and that makes it fun for me.

(Click here for some fun Elf Ideas From HVFH)

For the past couple of years, we’ve also participated in Operation Christmas Child by filling up boxes with little goodies for kids around the world. While it’s kind of hard for my kids to understand at the moment, it’s important to me that they realize Christmas isn’t just about getting presents. Part of the magic is giving, whether it be gifts to family members, friends, or someone we don’t even know. I had a proud mom moment a couple weeks ago when we were in the local hardware store looking at toys. My three-year-old pointed out something to me, saying, “Mom, I want to get this for my brother.” My heart absolutely melted.

The tradition I’m looking forward to most this year, though, is opening presents on Christmas morning. I know I just said I want my kids to not only think about getting presents, but come on…it’s still fun! This year is our almost one-year-old’s very first Christmas, and it’s also the first year our older son will really be surprised to find presents under the tree from Santa. As a kid, I remember waking my parents up at the crack of dawn with my siblings, and while I value my sleep very much these days, I actually can’t wait for the day when our boys wake us up with gleeful shouts of “It’s Christmas!” Seeing my kids’ excitement is all I need to feel the joy and wonder of the season, and I am so grateful to them for making it magical again.

While I don't love seeing my little one cry, I can't help but laugh every time I see this picture!
While I don’t love seeing my little one cry, I can’t help but laugh every time I see this picture! 

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Heather Shotkoski

http://www.andwhatalovelymessitis.wordpress.com/ My name is Heather, and I am lucky to be surrounded by handsome men! I have been married to my high school sweetheart for over ten years, and together we have three lovably wild little boys. I grew up in a tiny town near the middle of Nebraska, and after living in the "big city" of Kearney for six years, my husband and I found our way back to the small town life. I am a stay-at-home mom, and each day is definitely a new adventure with three rapidly growing boys. I absolutely love it!