I Choose Joy

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Christmas magic is silent.  You don’t hear it ~ you feel it. You know it.  You believe it. 

I am so blessed to have grown up in a home that celebrated the Christmas season with healthy gusto. As soon as December came around my mother would spin into action. Like a racehorse in the starting gate she was ready to take off at the shot of the gun. Boxes were pulled out of the attic and I would watch her take down the Fall decorations to ready the house for Christmas. It was hands down my favorite time of the year, and that was because my Mother made it magical.

When I grew up and had my first child it happened to me. As December approached I could barely contain myself. I had a list of things on that first Christmas To Do List. I wanted my child to know the kind of magic that only comes round one time a year. We picked out a beautiful tree and decorated it with ornaments; some of our choosing and some handed down from my mother and Grandmother. As Christmas cheer pulsed through my veins I quickly realized that I was becoming my mother.

It’s amazing how once we have kids we start seeing ourselves in our parents. It can be comical actually. Every mother has her own odd ideas of what is precious and shall become a tradition in their home. This is the first year in my home where Santa is no longer a larger than life figure. I have to admit that it takes the excitement down a notch. The Elf on the Shelf is out but he isn’t participating in our daily life as he has in seasons past. In some ways it’s a relief and in other ways I am trying to think of something we can do in his place.

When I left my husband it was on a freezing cold night a couple of weeks before Christmas. I had young children, nowhere to go, and I was terrified for our lives. That was a tough Christmas, but I had to make a decision that year about how I was going to proceed. Although I could barely think straight enough to eat,  I made it as magical as I could with the kids. My mother was there and dove right in to help me with that. That was the toughest time in my life and it happened during my favorite time of the year. In the end it was lovely because I was so grateful to be with my family. I may have even seen my 5-year-old smile that day.

I learned from my parents that Christmas is so much more than just a day. It’s more than presents. My parents celebrated the birth of Jesus and that was the reason for the season. The pre-Christmas busyness of planning, baking, wrapping, and shopping gave me a high. Seeing others happy is just about the best thing in the world isn’t it? I seize this opportunity every year to spread around some Christmas magic of my own.

I know a lot of people who hate this time of year. Perhaps they don’t have good childhood memories, perhaps like me, something happened to them that time of year or perhaps they just didn’t have anyone to truly celebrate with. I know it can trigger depression in people and I get that. When the middle of December comes around I get triggered too and I have to remember the choice that I made in my first year of freedom.

I wasn’t going to let the memory of my ex throwing out the Christmas tree with the ornaments away in the trash like the Grinch steal me of my Joy. I wasn’t going to let the fact that I didn’t have a home, a job, or any money destroy Christmas holidays yet to come. I was going to fight for what I loved. And so every year around this time I have to make a choice…do I allow the past to creep in or do I focus on creating some magic for those around me? I will always choose the latter.

If you are reading this and one of those people who struggle with the holidays I want to suggest that you focus your heart on being grateful. Because being grateful for my life, my kids lives, and the freedom to simply be able to celebrate Christmas is far more powerful than anything anyone can throw my way. Christmas spirit is a real thing, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some of us have to make a conscious decision to be happy. I chose Joy, because sometimes it really is as simple as that.

xo Ella

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