Christmas Lost…Christmas Found

I lost the Christmas spirit for a while...

I lost the Christmas spirit for a while…

Christmas has changed in recent years in my house. It is still one of my favorite times of the year, but I started noticing a sense of sadness and a little nostalgia as my kids got older. I believed I was losing Christmas.

I focused on the things that were slipping away:

No more trips to the mall to see Santa

No more letters to Santa (well, at least this year–so far…)

No more handmade Christmas gifts from school (ok, I admit, that one isn’t high on my “miss list”, but still…)

No more going out and finding that one thing you know will get “that look” on Christmas morning.

I felt the “magic of Christmas” fading away.

As the calendar raced closer to the 2014 holiday season, I felt that pang of missing something starting to creep into my mind and my heart.

And then something happened. Actually, a lot of things started happening:

I saw my 16 DD genuinely interested in giving to others this year and not worry so much about her list. She is planning how to buy presents with the money from her new job. She’s starting to have holiday secrets of her own, instead of me keeping them from her.

My 12DD is wrapped up in her dream performance of playing Clara in her dance studio’s annual Nutcracker ballet. For seven years, we’ve watched first my oldest, then both girls and now only my youngest in this amazing production. Miss E. is focused on giving the performance of her life and making presents for her fellow cast members. She actually “forgot” to make a list this year until I asked her for on. She wants books and DVDs. 

At dinner in mid-November, the kids sat down with their father and me to plan out which holiday movies we were going to watch together. For the first time, we have a Christmas movie/special countdown we plan enjoy throughout the month.

They both asked us if we’d be driving around to see the lights around our community–both the big organized displays and the simple ones on our neighbor’s homes. 

They had to know if we were going out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve “like we do every year.” Do they like Chinese food? Nope. But, years ago,  when the only place we could find something to eat after we got out late from a Christmas Eve service was a Chinese restaurant (the pizza place closed at 6), the kids decided that it was to be our family tradition to go out for Chinese every Christmas Eve.

My 16DD presented a case and compromise the United Nations could only dream about regarding why SHE was the only one who puts down the tree skirt. In exchange, she offered to let her younger sister set up and control the Nativity–which is usually another topic for debate.

I started to figure out that I wasn’t losing Christmas; in fact, my family is gaining so much more now that the girls are older. They are truly understanding the reason behind the season. We spent years trying to get them to see a deeper meaning and not just the materialistic side of the holiday and then, suddenly, when they start showing they get it, it turns out i’m the one who’s blinded by the colors and lights and other things.

They are growing up and, in my mind, I just don’t want that to happen.

But, as Christmas draws closer, I admit that what I’ve been witnessing over the past couple of weeks has brought the magic of Christmas back into my heart. These are times I’ll treasure with my family because I know in just a few short years, my girls will be on their way to creating their own traditions (or maybe reliving some of ours).

Traditions are not born. They are made.

I once thought Christmas was lost, but now I know it is found. I truly was blind and now do see the wonders of this special season. It’s family and it’s faith.

Have a blessed holiday season!

Advent in Two Minutes

I’ve always loved the anticipation of Advent.

Some of you may be thinking: what the heck is Advent?

Starting the fourth Sunday before Christmas, many Christian denominations take that time to prepare for the arrival of the savior on Christmas Day. Unlike Lent (around Easter), Advent is an eager, expectant waiting–not a time of self-sacrifice and sadness.

Yet, somehow, every year, I find myself feeling like I’m at the bottom of an avalanche of having too much too do tied up with a nice bow of high expectations. The holiday season flies by and I’m often left with a sense of emptiness and sadness by Christmas Day.

Yesterday during church services, our Pastor showed us this quick video on the meaning of Advent and it really hit home. Especially about the race to December 25. Check it out:

This year, I have a goal to take things a little slower, maybe say no to a few things I’ve had a hard time letting go of because I think we have to do it or have it for Christmas. And, I do plan on taking time each day for a little prayer. I’m not one of those people who can sit and pray for long periods of time, but taking 5 minutes out of my day is doable.

How are you preparing for Christmas and what can you possibly do to ease your stress level? Let me know, because I’m open to suggestions on how to avoid the tinsel trap!

Review: Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Walt Disney World gets into the Christmas holiday spirit early. By the first full week of November, holiday decorations hang from light posts, trees, buildings and more.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disneys Hollywood Studio is a bucket list item!

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disneys Hollywood Studio is a bucket list item!

For me, the best example of how Disney does things right when it comes to brightening the season is Disney’s Hollywood Studios Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This event is bucket-list early if you love looking at holiday decorations. Here is my event review, which WDWFanZone originally published on November 12, 2014.

Imagine more than 5 million colorful, twinkling lights dancing to some the best holiday music in the world! This will give you an idea of what Disney’s Hollywood Studios annual Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is like–-but, believe me, you have to see it to believe it.