Pretty Paper....

I watch my kids watching me prepare for Christmas. Alyssa, especially, is taking it all in, soaking it up, mentally filing the things we do away in her memory, so she can someday incorporate these family traditions into her own family. They are all still young enough for Santa, reindeer and cookies, but I have a small ache in my heart at thinking this could be the last year Alyssa believes. She asked me about Santa, earlier in the week. My response was to ask her what she thought. She answered that she still believes in her heart, and that makes him real enough for her. She's a smart one, my oldest girl. Because it's true.

Santa is magic and cookies and anticipation.. and more magic. He's something that kept us awake, wriggling in excitement, hoping to catch a glimpse of Rudolph, or Blitzen, eating their carrots as Santa munched on cookies, putting everything we ever asked for under the Christmas tree. And, for me, Santa is as magical now as he was then. Maybe more so. I understand the thrill my parents got watching me on Christmas morning- watching my eyes widen, hearing me gasp or squeal in excitement. There's just nothing like it. Bottle it, sell it, you'd make a million, believe me. There is just nothing as good as kids on Christmas morning.

We've got our music, like I've said. And I've finally had my moment. I knew it was coming, I could feel it creeping up on me as I watched them, as I lit candles, decorated rooms, made lists of ingredients for cookies, fudge and the like. And when Willie Nelson's voice came through the speakers, singing to us about his pretty paper, his pretty ribbons of blue... I had to take a breath. Then another. Then let my kids see me cry. Because there are times they need to understand that sad is ok. And someday, a long time from now hopefully, they will feel the same- I miss my mom.

I can finally say it, and feel it, for the first time, really. Whether that makes me cold, indifferent, whatever, there it is. Because of the past, the way our relationship was, it's been hard to miss her. To let go of the negative things she instilled in me, all the things she did to my friends, my life... someday I'll tell you more about that. For now, we will just say she was not an easy woman to live with, deal with. I never felt close to her as I got older, I felt trapped by her. I was afraid of her. But this year, seeing all the kids, I guess I can find a common ground with her.

She loved me, I know that. It wasn't a healthy love,but it was there. She decorated the way she did for me, for making the memories we did. The ones that stick, the ones I've brought to my own family. The ones that are warm and comfy, easy to smile at.. and I guess now, easy to cry for.

I miss being that young, coming in from school and seeing the lights, the decorations, the tree. I miss sitting with my Dad on Christmas Eve and morning, opening gifts and laughing. I miss the innocence and wonder I see in my own childrens' eyes. And I'm thankful, for all those Christmases my parents made so memorable and so magical. for having that to pass down, no matter what else is happening in the world around us. For twinkling lights, cookies, carrots, and most of all, for all that pretty paper.

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