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Two Christmas Eves I Understand Now

It's an interesting thing to be a parent. Especially when it comes to the holidays. There is always so much to do, so many expectations to live up to and so much that you want to be perfect. You want to hang onto the belief in all that makes Christmas Christmas, and to see it in your kids because if they keep believing it echoes back in you.

As I sit here waiting for my 3 year old to fall asleep so that Santa and Mrs. Claus can begin their work I think back to the many Christmas Eves of my youth. Two stand out from where I stand now.

The first thing to understand is that I am the eldest of six children. We have fantastic parents who made sure that we didn't lack, even if sometimes there wasn't a whole lot left over. It's hard work to raise that many kids on the salaries of a construction worker and a piano teacher. I still don't know how they did it, but I know a lot of love was involved and Christmas was always about that love.

One year which lives firmly in my memories was the year my mother sewed Cabbage Patch Dolls and Care Bears for all of us. She put in hours sewing, and stuffing, and painting. She designed hair dos in thick lovely yarn, and matched the right bears to the right symbols on their bellies. These beloved toys were worth so much more than any we could have got from the store because they were just for us a bit of my mom in every stitch and tuck. Mine came to college with me, and then to my own home, and finally into my married day I'll show them to my little girl, and when I'm gone they'll belong to her. Hopefully Samantha and Care-a-lot will be in the family for many little girls, and many years to come.

A second Christmas happened when I was 7 or 8, I don't remember for certain. What I do remember was that it was the year of the Barbie doll at my school. Everyone wanted one, but I was firmly a tom boy and assured my parents I didn't need a dumb doll. However, in my heart of hearts I yearned for one a desire that came to a head on Christmas Eve as I tearfully confided in my parents that I had made a mistake in my list and wondered if Santa could manage a last minute miracle just for me. I wrote a letter in a yellow-orange crayon and pinned it to my stocking and went to bed, leaving the rest to fate. Santa came through, in simple, but flying colors.

I missed so many things in those years. I missed the reality of the sleepless nights required for those dolls. I missed the look between my parents as they knew a last minute request meant my father would go searching for someplace open on Christmas Eve with just one more Barbie doll, and another huge effort in what was already a long night for them. (And this was in the 1980s...stores staying open 24 hours a day to fill these last minute needs weren't nearly as common as they are now). But I understand why they did those things now.

Because love and sacrifice is the fuel of belief and belief makes the magic work.

May we all make magic for those in our lives for many years to come.

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