Years ago when the kids were still small, it was Christmas time at our house and we were running a day late and dollar short, again. Their father had passed away and once again I was groveling in my prayers for more time, more money and the ability to do five things at once. I kept asking for octopus arms. Of course, now I feel God really had my back on that one, but at the time I felt unheard. I kept thinking that not only would the eight arms help me at work as well as home, but I could work the circus route on weekends for extra cash. In the end, I am glad to not have to worry about special made clothes or those weird times when your arms fall asleep. Eight times the prickly tingling would kill me, I think.
This one particular year, I was way behind decorating the house, missed St. Nicholas day completely and had to make up some crazy reason as why he had missed only our house in a thirty block radius and of course I was working doubles to try and pay for our life as we knew it. I think back now about how important sleep became, because I never got any. I averaged about four hours a night. I was dead dog tired all the time. I would have given up the appendage of any one's choice if they could have given me only an hour nap. I loved hearing about and coveted other's sleep. I was so jealous back then of anybody who got to go to bed and stay there for eight hours. I couldn't wrap my brain around that concept.
I had gotten home from work and the kids asked me if I were going to drag the Christmas stuff out and decorate the house. "At least put up the tree, Mommy," the kids pleaded.
"I will, as soon as I can tonight. I promise." I looked down at the little angelic faces who so depended on me to keep their world in the upright and locked position.
That night I gave them baths, helped them brush their teeth, said prayers with them and tucked them in, all warm and fresh and cozy. I proceeded to go to the living room and lay down on the couch to just relax for a few minutes before dragging all the Christmas boxes from the closet upstairs. I was off of work the next day and just wanted to close my eyes for a minute. The house was quiet except the low drone of the TV in the background. I let out a deep sigh and allowed my body to let go, if only for a moment. The next time I opened my eyes it was morning and I was surprised by the sounds of my gasping children. "Mommy, wake up! Did you do this, it's all so beautiful!" I rubbed my weary and swollen eyes and looked around the room. Every inch was decorated with bows, greenery, stockings and our Christmas tree filled to the brim with family ornaments. "I looked at the kids and asked,"Did you guys do this?" They looked shocked at the question. Danny was the first to speak up,"We didn't do any of this. We thought you did." "No," I answered, "I'm sorry but I fell asleep as soon as I hit the couch." The kids all looked around for signs of the Christmas intruder who had broken into our house and decorated our home top to bottom. "Mommy, who would do this?" I surveyed all the workmanship, the attention to detail and the careful way everything was placed just so. I had one and only one idea of who it could be. "I am not sure and don't want to say until you tell me who you think it was." The kids looked at each other's faces and then back at me and said almost in complete unison, "Elves!" Still shocked that all of our Christmas stuff had magically made it's way out of storage and had draped itself perfectly around the rooms, I couldn't help but nod my head in agreement.
My kids were deep in the magical spell of all that is Christmas. They had a renewed sense of wonder and excitement about them, as did I. We had witnessed a miracle and we all knew this was too big to ignore. I heard one of them say, "There is no way Mama could do all this in one night. It's too much. It had to be elves or Santa. It just had to be."
Everything about that Christmas had wonder and magic in it. The lights twinkled brighter, the fire felt warmer, the hot cocoa tasted sweeter. I love Christmas and the magic it brings. I love the feel of my days as I wallow in the sounds of Christmas carols and sip hot cocoa by the fire. I love the warm, fuzzy memories I have of Christmases long ago when I was a child, and remembering the holidays with my own children when they were so tiny.
I wish for you the opportunity to sit back relax and take in the joy of the season. As memories flood your mind and family fills your home, I wish for you the deepest most gratifying feeling of peace on the earth and truly goodwill toward everybody. May the elves find your home and leave behind them the awestruck smiles of childlike wonder.