There is just something about the holidays that bring an extra bit of joy to my heart. For some, it’s the cheerful singing, blinking lights or those crazy rudolph antlers with the big red nose you see on the hood of the car passing by you! Others enjoy the decorations, shiny glitter and maze of Christmas lights.
Then, there’s the shopping. The long lines. Those pesky traffic lights, that seem as though they will never turn back to green. The lady taking her good ol’ time smelling every single candle on the shelf, while her cart is parked on the opposite side of the aisle, completely blocking traffic. Holiday shopping can, quite honestly, be dreadful! I say this as a retail store owner AND a mom of a 10 year old that has a difficult time understanding why Santa can’t always bring him exactly what he asks for! I feel as though I’m on all sides of the fence with this one! I feel your pain!
In spite of the chaos that surrounds the season, I do want to add how grateful I am to enjoy a well decorated Christmas tree each year. And how thankful I am to spend quality time with all the family members I don’t get to see as often as I wish I did. And how gracious our family is to cook and enjoy such a delicious meal together.
However, there was a time when I opted out of Christmas. Well, I tried to anyway. My son was not even 2 years old, I was a single mom working my butt off just to make sure the lights stayed on and our home kept warm. At work, everyone started to talk about their holiday plans. Where they were going, who they were spending their time off with and the like. When it came my turn to share, I simply stated that we didn’t have much planned. No plans of cutting down our own tree or decorating. I wasn’t going to buy gifts or make a big deal of Christmas this year. We were just going to hang out at home. “Mason will never remember” I told them. “He’ll get things from other family members to open”.
Despite my intention of being perfectly content with just enjoying a day off, my coworkers at the time, had other plans. As I walked out to my car after a lunch shift at the Piper Tavern just days before Christmas, my feelings about the holidays truly changed forever. There were PILES of bags and gifts and gifts and bags waiting behind my old Ford Explorer. There were diapers, wipes, butt cream and baby powder. There were clothes, toys and movies! It brings the tears back to my eyes as the feeling comes back to me while I type this. At that moment, my heart was overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Then, one of the chefs, drove up in his Volkswagon Jetta, with a forest green, pine tree tied to his roof. I remember giggling thinking, oh my goodness, why on earth did he take his car to pick up his Christmas tree. Then, I quickly realized, that wasn’t his tree. It was mine. I couldn’t believe it. These people, the people I thought were ‘just my coworkers’ all went out of their way to bring my family a Christmas! They were far from ‘just my coworkers’. I will forever hold a very special place in my heart for every single one of them! I will never forget that Christmas. It was the Christmas of 2008. I will never forget the look on Mason’s face when he woke up on Christmas morning with a tree, decorated with lights and ornaments, standing tall over a pile of wrapped gifts for him to open and enjoy.
It has been quite a while since I’ve last talked to many of those friends, as we have since lost touch. We have moved on in our careers and in life. I hope that if any of them read this, they know how much they mean to me. How their actions carved the true meaning of Christmas into the hearts of my family forever. And how much I appreciate what they did for us during that difficult time. Thank you. All of you. From the bottom of my heart.
I share that story every year. Usually with someone that I feel needs a reminder of when it’s time to put the hustle and bustle of the holiday season behind them and focus on the amazing memories that are right in front of them. So this year, if that person is you. If you are beginning to lose the true meaning of the holiday season, this blog post is dedicated to you. Take a deep breath and remember the joy that you have to look forward to. Your kids. Parents. Grandparents. Grandkids. Nieces and nephews. Friends. A dinner table filled with a roasted turkey, homemade potatoes and green bean casserole. The smell of fresh pine filling your warm home. And all the unforgettable memories that await you in the upcoming New Year.
Thank you for going Beyond the Racks with me.