There’s a beautiful story I have no choice but to share with you – one that should be shared with everyone you care about. You may have heard it before but it’ll change the way you think about Christmas (hopefully).
But first, it’s no secret – once our little family started growing along with the obligations to spend holidays with extended family – we quickly tired of advertisers’ push to consume and rush around to purchase last-minute gifts to try and please a slue of different individuals.
So the last few years our little family of three, and then four, tried to lead by example in slowing down, spending less and making handmade gifts. But it still felt like too much.
The blow came with my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer this past August. It came as a shock, as cancer often does, as my younger sisters and I tried to grasp helping care for a mother whose focus was to raise us as independent women. She basically raised the three of us alone (my father traveled every week). She’s a mother who received her pilots license as I entered college and went on to get her Bachelors and Masters degrees once we were old enough to start fending for ourselves. Thankfully yet unfortunately, my dad has spent the first few months of his retirement taking care of her daily needs but done an impeccable job.
My mom (still) never stops her busy schedule but had to, in this case, as she underwent chemotherapy. But one afternoon, while sitting around with our mom in her scarf, medications sitting on the coffee table and energy low, we all gave pause to ask ourselves what this season should, or rather could, look like this year.
Maybe it was her cancer that helped us put our foot down and say “enough is enough.” Maybe it was just time. We’d already been moving in this direction anyway. Or maybe it wasn’t any of this but instead, needing our parents on board with our holidays-simplified wishes. This “opportunity” has now become a finality to the desire to continue trying to show us girls a “perfect” Christmas – which we now know, is a myth.
I’ll never forget watching my mom crumble in tears as we humbly asked her to set aside all the things she’s used to doing this year and just relax. Even our father pleaded her to stop burdening herself with trying to prove or offer us her idea of a magical Christmas atmosphere complete with food, music, activities and a tree spilling out gifts underneath.
I now know her purposeful actions were never a burden but a pursuit to create her idea of happy memories. Every Christmas season she’d keep herself busy rushing around, standing in lines, buying as many gifts as she could to try and keep those childhood memories alive despite us all being over the age of 25.
My dad often reminds us girls of the one Christmas when my mom kept pulling out gift after gift after gift and at one point, one of us looked up and asked “do we have to open more presents?”
Obviously, this was eye-opening but nevertheless didn’t break her habit.
And while I can appreciate her perspective as well as all her hard work over the years, I finally feel like we’ve arrived where we always should have been all along – without the expectations and mountains of gifts and overwhelmed schedule of holiday activities.
Unfortunately, like you hear a lot, it took cancer to get there. 😦
This year, we’ll be sitting by a fire, exchanging maybe one or two gifts, sipping hot chocolate, maybe singing or sharing stories, watching the kids play, reading from the Bible and most importantly – simply sharing this glorious short time on earth we have together.
Now that’s a memory I’ll be sure to cherish…
Finally, here’s the story I told you about. It’s heartwarming and beautiful, but please don’t take it as a suggestion. It’s merely a reminder that keeping Christmas simple and doing what’s in your heart will always be more impactful and memorable than anything a store can offer.
Enjoy. The White Envelope.
Merry Christmas – With Love.