According to an article I read on CNN, adults have a greater chance of dying of natural causes on Christmas or the day after Christmas than any other single day of the year. The older I get, the more I get it. The Holidays have become this crazy non-stop train barreling through the months of October, November, and December like some kind of malevolent Polar Express. And, as much as I try, I am not immune to its force. I keep buying more Christmas lights for the front yard, more magical burlap-wrapped trees made by Chip and JoAnna for the mantel, more cute little signs that say “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” and “Beware: Elves on Duty” for the porch. From decking the halls Griswold style to that damn little Elf on the Shelf that keeps popping up in my Facebook newsfeed, I feel like if I’m not falalalala-ing twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I’m a failure.
Every day I get an email from the PTA about donating wrapping paper/pies/cookies/candy/my left kidney in order to show the teachers how much we care about them this Holiday Season. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the people who teach my kids.That’s why I’ve spent the last three weeks finding them the perfect handcrafted gifts on Etsy.
That’s right. I’ve become a gift-giving ninja. I searched three continents so my kids can have the most amazing presents that stimulate both their brains and their souls. I finagled something for my husband that will blow his mind and make him marvel at what an awesomely thoughtful wife I am. I bought my dog a cute little Santa hat she refuses to wear and cinnamon Christmas biscuits she hates. Next weekend I planned on creating a Rockwellian Christmas fantasy where we carol through the streets spreading Christmas cheer to Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge screaming “Falalalala-lalalala!” until my blood pressure spikes at 210/140 and I pass out in my neighbor’s front yard.
Reality check, Heidi: These things aren’t the reason for the season. Yesterday, when I picked my kids up from school, my youngest handed me a piece of paper and said, “I made my Christmas list at school today. I wished for Avery to be alive again so she can celebrate Christmas with us.” My heart literally fell out of my chest and got stuck under the gas pedal.
I’ve spent the last month focusing on all the materialism Christmas has to offer. I’ve spent my free time obsessing over the things some mysterious capitalistic force tells me I should care about, when all my 6 year-old really wants for Christmas is to spend some time with his dead sister. Let’s just say there were tears involved, and the conversation that ensued provided me with much needed perspective. After explaining to my son that Santa doesn’t have the power to bring back the dead, he asked if he could call Santa’s hotline and leave a voicemail. (It’s 951-262-3062, in case you’re wondering.)
“Hi, Santa. This is Preston. All I want for Christmas is for you to talk to God and see if he can bring my sister back to life like he did Jesus because I’d like to spend some time with her. Thanks.”
Family. Love. Togetherness. Those are the things that really matter this Christmas.