“Mom, I’m pretty much like Jesus, right?” Ben inquires. But… let me start at the beginning…
As a mother, I’ve always wanted to impart the importance of holidays and traditions to my boys. I’ve tried to carry on traditions that my parents observed. Of course both of my family’s put up traditional Christmas trees. My stepmother collects an ornament labeled with each year. I suspect she has an ornament every year since at least 1984, if not before. We would take special trips just to find a fun ornament for her collection, unless my father helped me buy a special one for her as a Christmas present. My father has always made it a point, (sometimes even in summer but always at Christmas time) to watch the CBS version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer on television. My mother has a certain way of wrapping gifts to make them look beautiful and more exciting. My mother also has a generous heart, and more often than not, she’d show me how to support other families at Christmas who were less fortunate than our own. More important than the presents and pleasantries, my parents taught me that spending time with family is more important than anything. Even if we can’t be together on December 25th, I have learned it’s important to make a date on the calendar to come together and celebrate all that we have been blessed with.
Unfortunately, I’m not much of a cook. And although I’ve tried a few times to make Christmas cookies, the kids certainly have found it more fun to make cookies with Gma Linda in the past than they ever will with me. But, I have found ways to turn other traditions into my own. Like my stepmother, I collect ornaments. Rather than an ornament year by year, I like to collect ornaments that will tell a story. I collect an ornament on every trip we take to someplace new to remember where we’ve been. I have an ornament that represents our wedding, our honeymoon and our first house. Before I started my collection, my mother-in-law bought me an ornament called “baby in my stocking” when I was expecting Jake. That was the moment I knew for sure I was with the right man.
When the boys were younger, I’d have them pick out presents to donate to Toys for Tots. Now that things are a little tighter financially, I still try to make sure they ring bells each season, at the very least. Last year, Ryan, Jake and I took part in a local event that allowed us to take a prepared meal to a few people who could really benefit from a little company and a Christmas feast. I was so proud to watch Jake enjoy it so much! I look forward to continuing things of that nature with my boys as they grow!
And of course, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is still my favorite Christmas program, and I certainly enjoy watching it with my boys each year.
My favorite Christmas tradition though, is one that I started when they were very little. Each year, I like to buy a Christmas book or
two five. The tradition started simply as I’d read them Christmas books by the light of our Christmas tree each year. Overtime, our collection of holiday literature has grown, and during the Christmas season I allow them to select the books we are going to read for bedtime. My favorite book is “My Christmas Miracle.” As I read it to Benjamin tonight, (Jake, being older and cooler now, decided he’d rather read to himself) we discussed all the meaning of the book. We talked about Jesus and angels and I sang a few Christmas hymns to him. We talked about how Jesus was born on Christmas, and he went on to grow to help serve the poor and other great things. We talked about how we, too could be kind and give whatever gifts that we had to offer. We remembered that you can share your money, or your time, or your food, or your thoughts, or even just a laugh. It was a great conversation.
Just as I thought Ben was about to fall asleep, he whispers:
“Mom, I’m pretty much like Jesus, right? Because I taught all my friends my very best joke.”
I thought that was really sweet. I assured him that he is a very kind boy and should continue to aspire to walk in the footsteps of kindness.
For the record, if someone says something that doesn’t make ‘sense’ to you, you could respond, “You don’t make *dollars*!” (Best joke ever, courtesy of Ben.)