The last two weeks of December are cementing themselves as my favorite of the entire year. For days, toys and wrapping paper spread across the house like travelers waiting for their rides back home, the busy station too small to hold them all inside.
As an adult, I find Christmas nostalgia stronger than Christmas present. Memories of my childhood become a thick blanket over me as I miss my grandmother more than ever before. I compensate by pouring my energy into June’s first memorable holiday together. What can I do to give her what I cannot have back?
With the snow spiraling everywhere around us on Christmas Eve, we laid oatmeal and sprinkles outside for the reindeer to eat. June dumped them, plop, into a large pile, smiling and yelling, “reindeer” as if it were an ending to a magic trick that would make them appear.
Then after dinner, the five of us, June, Sean, his brother and sister-in-law, and I piled into the van and drove through the light display at the local baseball field.
Afterwards, we stood outside the home of their oldest friend’s mom and caroled until the doors were opened. I wondered how many times as children she had opened her doors to the Mapes boys with that same smile. It is becoming increasingly important for me to hold on to positive friendships. And lately, the Cherry family is an essential piece of our happiness here.
I want to remember the way June laid in bed with us on Christmas morning, sweetly telling Sean, “Merry Christmas to you, too, Daddy.” She was bursting with excitement to hear that Santa had left her toys beneath the Christmas tree. And once seeing them, her already wide eyes somehow got larger.
Without a doubt, Christmas morning with an excitable child is nothing but fun. We took our time opening gifts and sipping warm coffee as June dragged her new llama around the room between us.