Although my recent return to work has made this the most harried holiday season in recent memory, there has been something particularly magical about this Christmas. Even as I’ve run around town like a headless chicken in search of gifts for the eight hundred and thirty-seven people on my list, I’ve felt it. Even as I’ve defiantly turned the lights out and walked away from rooms that desperately needed to be tidied and cleaned, I’ve known it. Even as I’d told friends and family that I simply won’t be able to send their gifts in time for the holiday this year, my heart has been full.
This Christmas has been different because, as I’ve said to anyone who would listen, THIS year Brooke GETS it. Heck, I said it to you.
She gets every bit of it. She gets the Santa part and the reindeer part and the asking for presents part. She gets the wanting part and the waiting part and is even starting to come around to the maybe not getting EVERYTHING on one’s list part. She gets the Elf on the Shelf part. The first words out of her mouth EVERY SINGLE morning are, “Where’s Scouter?”
She gets the giving part – at least sort of. At the local Kid’s House of Exorbitantly Priced Do It Yourself Arts and Crafts she chose figurines to paint as presents for the family members that will be with us on Christmas – *spoiler alert* – Dora for Grammy, Blue for Grandpa DD and Elmo for her Aunt Michelle.
She gets the advent calendar part. Every night before bed, she searches her advent elf’s pockets for just the right treat.
I’ve been over the moon that my girl is GETTING it, that she’s been a true participant in the process, in the traditions; in Christmas. It’s a whole new world for us.
But the other night there was a hint at something. Something big. Something that knocked me on the head and reminded me that I have been looking at my girl through MY lens. And forgetting to look at the world through HERS. And that if I had been looking through hers, I wouldn’t have been able to forget that there’s always, ALWAYS, a whole lot more than what I THINK I see.
Come closer, my friends. This is important.
We were in the basement, hauling up the last of the Christmas decorations. I was covered in red and green as I tried to make the most of my two arms in an attempt to minimize trips. I walked slowly toward the steps – a wreath slung across one shoulder and a stack of table linens on the other. Both hands were full – one with the kitchen Santa, the other with his cookie baking wife, Mrs Claus. A basket of silk ribbon was precariously balanced in the crook of my left arm.
Brooke stood in front of the shelves, holding another Santa by his hat. “C’mon, baby,” I yelled back. “Let’s make a trip up. You carry your Santa.”
She didn’t move.
“Brooke, honey,” I said, “This stuff is getting heavy. I’m going to drop it upstairs, OK?”
She didn’t move. Instead she said, “Mom, where’s my tree?”
The wreath was beginning to dig into my shoulder. “What tree, honey?” I asked.
“My tree,” she said. “That goes in my room. With Zoe on it. And Big Bird. And Elmo. But NO Cookie Monster. Mom, where’s my tree?”
Years ago, I bought the girls their own little tabletop trees. While Katie set about decorating hers, Brooke barely took notice of hers. Katie took her time choosing garland and tinsel, then took great care in picking exactly the right ornaments. For weeks on end we wandered through the aisles of ANY store that sold decorations. She was determined to find just the right ones.
Brooke simply didn’t seem to care. I showed her ornament after ornament trying to solicit an opinion – or at least a reaction – but none was forthcoming. Finally, I stopped asking and chose them for her. I found adorable beaded garland and strung it around the colored lights. I searched high and low for ornaments that I thought she’d like to look at. I found Sesame Street and Dora, even Blue’s Clues. And when it was finished, I put it into her room, just like her big sister’s.
I carefully laid the wreath on the floor. I set the ribbons down along with Mr and Mrs Claus. I walked over to my girl and pointed to where her tree was sitting on the shelf, hidden behind two others. “Do you want to bring your tree upstairs, Brooke?” I asked.
“I do,” she said.
She walked next to me as I carried the small tree up two flights of stairs. She chose a spot for it and together, we set it down in her room, on her dresser, right where it had always been. And right where she’d known it belonged.
Later that night we lit her tree before bed. As we snuggled together in the warm glow of the lights, it hit me.
Brooke knew all along. She GOT it all along. For the millionth time, I was the one who didn’t get it at all.