I don't know how old I was when it occurred to me that my mom got the shaft at Christmas. Her hours of shopping, wrapping, and planning were reciprocated with a $5 necklace with a cheap gold chain that said "#1 Mom" in red lettering on a crystal (plastic) heart purchased with (her own) money given to me at the "Little Shopper's Shop" at school. I'm sure she and my dad exchanged gifts before they divorced, but what stands out in my mind is realizing that my mom had so few presents to open on Christmas morning, and feeling sad about it.
Was she sad? "No," she assured me when I asked. I chalked it up to one of those "Mom Things," where she just puts up a front because she's The Mom and that's what you do.
But now, I'm The Mom. And I get it.
The first time the excitement washed over me was two Christmases ago, when Levi was two. His gifts that year were a tool bench ($5 at Community Aid), a kid's guitar ($11 at Jubilee), a small train set ($10 at Ikea), and a few race cars. His presents were physically big, but money was tight and I was so happy that thriftiness had yielded so well to make Christmas morning special for my little guy. As soon as he was asleep, Herb, my mom, and I rearranged the living room to make space for the tool bench and carefully wrapped and placed other gifts under the tree.
Each year, intensity in Levi's spirit builds. Will it climax and start to descend? I'm sure, that will come, but for now, Christmas is pure magic in our house. Even without Santa. He asked me straight up if Santa was real, I said, "No, but it's ok if you want to pretend," and he's completely in to that. "Santa is like a mascot!" He says.
Herb has been so miserable sick (on and off) for the past two months. This week it's shingles. They are a special kind of horrible. That being said, the present planning, buying, making, wrapping, arranging has fallen on me. And because of my new camera, I made him promise to let that be my Christmas gift this year.
In a full circle moment a few minutes ago, I carefully arranged Levi and Herb's gifts under the skinny Christmas tree, stuffed three stockings, and tidied up the living room and kitchen. I realized how amazingly excited I am for what the next 24 hours will hold and that that thrill has nothing to do with any gifts I may receive tomorrow. The joy is in making Christmas happen for Levi (and Herb).
The gift is the title of Mom.
Thank you, mom for the love poured in to making Christmas special for me for so many years (decades). I will pay it forward to the best of my ability.