Finding magic in unexpected places

Published 9:16 am Monday, December 20, 2021

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As a member of the First-Time Parent Club, I have learned a lot since our son’s birth earlier this year. A LOT. I should probably put my job skills to use and write detailed notes about the different situations my husband and I have found ourselves in as new parents so we have something to reference—or laugh about—if we have more children. But I think I’m counting on us to just remember what we did the first time around and to follow our instincts, like we’re often told to do when it comes to our precious little ones.

I still have a lot to learn about being a parent, but one thing that has become even more clear to me in this season of adulthood is how much my own parents did for me, and not just in practical, everyday ways. They went to great lengths to make Christmas a magical time for my sister and me. They took us to church and taught us about Jesus, the whole reason we celebrate Christmas and have hope for the future. They created fun family traditions that we could look forward to every year: driving around to look at Christmas lights, picking out and decorating our Christmas tree, going to the Nutcracker and many other activities that could fill the rest of this page. And, yes, they tried to fulfill the requests on our young wish lists with the help of jolly old St. Nicholas.

As hard as they tried, though, things didn’t always go according to plan. They were really good at keeping us shielded from most of the hiccups they experienced behind the scenes, but there were certain situations that couldn’t be “hidden.” One of my favorite memories is the year my dad forgot to pack our stockings. At my grandma’s house in Georgia, my sister and I excitedly ran into the living room to see what Santa had brought us. Instead of our stockings, however, we found two of my dad’s black dress socks on the floor, stuffed to the gills with treats. They looked like two large black snakes that had slithered into the room, gorged themselves on candy and passed out. We still laugh about it to this day.

One aspect of becoming a parent that I have looked forward to the most is recreating my own fond childhood experiences for my child. I want to help create the same magical Christmas memories for him that I have. I want him to love this time of year as only a child can; that is, before the adult responsibilities creep in and overshadow some of the enjoyment. And I’m trying to remind myself that perfection should not be my goal. It shouldn’t be anyone’s goal. We should embrace all the moments of the season—the planned ones, the unplanned ones and all the other ones in between. When I say one of my favorite childhood memories from Christmas is waking up to a black sock full of candy, I say it with my whole heart.

Our kids might not remember all of their awesome gifts we ran ourselves ragged trying to find, although the looks on their faces when they see them on Christmas morning will be etched in our minds. They most likely will remember the messes we make with them while trying to build gingerbread houses, our not-so-beautiful voices singing along to Christmas songs on the radio as we drive around to look at lights, and yes, even the weird black sock snakes that might show up unexpectedly on Christmas morning. These are the rich moments that even the richest person cannot buy in a store. So join me in cutting yourselves some slack and just soaking in these imperfect moments with your families. The memories will be priceless.