This is how Christmas decorating went this year in my house:
2 weeks prior: I announce that we’ll be decorating for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving and the kids respond with overwhelming excitement and jubilation and hubby steels himself for heavy lifting and treacherous roof climbing.
1 week prior: The Christmas Spirit is in FULL FORCE as the kids keep asking if it’s time now? Is it time yet? Is it Christmas? Can we do it today? Are we decorating yet?
The day of: Hubby valiantly climbs up into the attic and gets down all the over-stuffed heavy bins of decorations while the kids and I are at the grocery store. We return to a garage filled with the promise of Christmas magic.
5 minutes in: Hubby tames the Christmas tree so that we can start hanging decorations, and then heads outside to tackle the outdoor lights. I turn on the Christmas music and declare it Game ON.
10 minutes in: The kids start pulling ornaments from the box, exclaiming “Oh, I remember this one! Oh! This one’s funny!” as they haphazardly fling them in the general direction of the tree.
15 minutes in: The kids’ exuberance at all the ornaments is punctuated by my constant barking of “Be careful with that!” “Put that one down!” “Wait, don’t touch that one!” “Hey! Come back here and put these ornaments on the tree!!!!!!”
20 minutes in: The kids have largely stopped paying attention to the actual Christmas tree and I am left with all remaining decorations while they chase each other around the house with strands of garland.
30 minutes in: I am shouting words like "Fiddlesticks!" and "DagNabIt!" so that I don't say "#$#%!" and "###&*!" at the train tracks that go under our tree because I can’t get them together properly. My wise and patient 6 year old decides to take over.
35 minutes in: My 6 year old throws her arms up in frustration at the train tracks that she can also not get to fit together, so hubby takes over and has the tracks together in minutes flat.
37 minutes in: My 3 year old delights in watching the train run backwards around the track (because the forward button on the remote is somehow broken).
38 minutes in: My 3 year old knocks the train off the tracks to stop it (because the stop button is also somehow broken).
45 minutes in: My 6 year old, entirely bored of the tree, starts to investigate the remaining boxes of decorations, dragging my 3 year old around the house randomly assigning decoration spots, with me encouraging her to possibly perhaps think things through more… err… thoughtfully before setting them down. All the while reminding them to HAVE FUN! and ENJOY THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT!!! already. And really Pandora, you're playing the Nutcracker Suite again???
1 hour in: I discover one whole bin of decorations has been befallen by a bad winter and is covered in moldy rotten goo, three years of my kids’ homemade hand wreaths reduced to a pile of mush. I begin to wonder if it is too early for eggnog.
90 minutes in: Both kids have forgotten about Christmas decorations entirely. Hubby wonders if it is safe to turn on football.
2 hours in: All the leftover Christmas decorations still on the tables and floor just look like that much junk to me, and I can hardly find the inspiration to find a spot for them. And ENOUGH WITH THE NUTCRACKER, Pandora!!
3 hours in: Football it is.
At sunset: We run outside to admire the outdoor lights that hubby put up and shout an approving “Hurrah!” The neighbors wonder if we’re crazy to have our lights up already.
I don't know about you, but I always imagine this day as one that will be filled with Christmas music (that we're singing in perfect tune to, of course) and the smell of cookies baking in the oven and fresh evergreen, with boundless laughter and unending energy to string homemade popcorn garland and make homemade ornaments and hang countless lights. In this scenario we’re obviously all in matching sweaters and full of love for each other and the spirit of the holiday. And wait, is that a light sprinkling of snow outside? Well let's go outside and make perfect snow angels and then come back inside for a steamy mug of hot cocoa in front of a perfectly crackling fire.
But that’s not the way the day actually ever turns out. Instead it’s a day filled with frustrations and annoyances and boredom. And hard work. And half work. And work abandoned. And also fun and joy and giggles. In short, it’s a day. Just like any other. The only difference is that it does indeed include Christmas music and lights (and occasionally a mug of hot cocoa). It's not perfect, and that's okay. What actually ever is? What it is is messy and funny and memorable... and yes, that is absolutely magical.
Where can you find the magic in your ordinary day today?