Thursday, December 23, 2010

The One That's Not About Disney

by: LaLa




We spend a good bit of time writing about these three words here, as it relates to our vacations and time spent reliving happy moments with the ones we love the most. In a place that we all love dearly. But as I put up a 'last minute' tree the other night and breathed in the heady aroma that announces the arrival of Christmas, I was instantly and quite surprisingly transported back in time thirty years. And in that moment I was reminded that there is no time or place that brings about any greater joy, any more priceless memories, any more pure and unbridled gleeful anticipation than Christmastime.

Sweet, glorious Christmastime.

It all started not with a mouse, but with a spontaneous purchase. A whim, if you will.

For weeks our home has been fully decorated, inside and out. Ready and waiting to ring in the holiday season with its perfectly perfect white lights and painstakingly color coordinated ornaments strewn everywhere and anywhere they will fit. But as beautiful and convenient as our artificial tree in all of its decorated glory is, it felt like something was missing. Like I was doing it all wrong. At least as far as the decorating goes. So while I was out finishing up my shopping, I happened upon a sale I couldn’t pass up and picked up a small Frasier fir for less than the cost of an Arby’s combo.

Little did I know the memories that little purchase would evoke.

As soon as we got home, I went to work. I promptly set the tree up in the kid’s bonus room just off the kitchen and proceeded to decorate it in the exact opposite fashion of the rest of the house.

There were no matching ornaments and not a single white light to be found anywhere. Instead, I went with a multitude of old school C-7 lights in every color of the rainbow, as well as multi-colored twinkling lights. Once I was finished, I took a step back and took a deep breath.


One little tear.

The happy kind.

Because as I stood there taking it all in, my mind was immediately ushered back to SO many Christmases of my youth. As I watched the lights glow and dance and smelled the familiar scent that has always signified the arrival of Christmas, I was no longer on the verge of 40. I no longer had responsibilities. No longer had any grown up worries. I was five again, wearing my favorite ruffled flannel nightgown and I could feel the cold hardwood floor beneath my feet and hear my big brother’s excited whisper as we tip toed through the darkened house together, being ever so careful not to awaken anyone else. The anticipation was like a knot in my stomach and I felt as though I could hardly breathe the closer we came to our destination. But we were greeted with sheer unbridled bliss as we peeked into the living room and beheld the wonder of Christmas morning. In an otherwise darkened cold room, the multi-colored lights that shone like glowing Easter eggs reflected off the wooden floor and cast just enough light on the items below to send a five year old snaggle-toothed little girl and her seven year old brother into uncontrollable, giddy, quiet laughter. Christmas had indeed arrived, and it was everything we had hoped it would be. It’s curious that, for the life of me, I can’t recall a single gift I received that year. But I can recall perfectly, can still FEEL perfectly, every emotion I felt that morning and so many other mornings like it over thirty years later.

Looking back on all of those years, there was always so much joy in our lives at Christmas. And as a parent, I feel blessed beyond measure to be able to see that same joy reflected in my own children’s eyes at this time each year. Earlier today our daughter pleaded, “Mama, PLEASE make Christmas come faster, I can hardly wait for it!” She’s got joy, oh yes she does. And it mirrors ours exactly because as a parent, we take joy in giving good things to our children. You think the lead up to a surprise Disney trip is momentous, you ain’t seen nothing’ till you’ve seen us at Christmastime. My husband and I both turn into giddy, sneaky little kids around this time of year, but it’s not because of anything we hope to gain. It’s about giving good things to our children out of love and anticipating how happy it will make them. How it will make their lives better. How it will make them smile, or possibly dissolve into a fit of uncontrollable, giddy, quiet laughter in an otherwise darkened room illuminated only by the light from the Christmas tree.

There is so much joy that comes with being able to provide something that your beloved child desperately wants or needs and seeing them appreciate it fully, especially at Christmastime. I sometimes wonder if that’s the same kind of joy that our Heavenly Father felt as He gave us the ultimate gift, the gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. I say that knowing full well that there is absolutely no comparison between anything we could give and what He gives us, His children. What He gave us with the ultimate gift. Because with the unwrapping of that gift, there truly is no greater joy on this earth.

It’s my prayer that each of you have a safe, wonderful, Christmas. One filled with joy and giddy anticipation as you relive special memories from Christmases past and make new ones to add to the priceless collection in your mind.

Merry Christmas, friends. May time spent with your loved ones at this special time of the year be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.


  1. Awesome LaLa. You beautifully put in to words how I feel about Christmas (past & present). My only question is ...where will Santa leave gifts? The bonus room or under the white lights?


  2. Andrea sad:

    My only question is ...where will Santa leave gifts? The bonus room or under the white lights?

    The Girl asked that very same question. The official answer is: maybe both. You know Santa has to keep them on their feet. ;)

    How pathetic is it that we have to do the homemade smilies? How 'bout we get some smilies for Christmas, ZZUB?

    Thanks for reading and posting, Andrea. Yall have a Merry Christmas!

  3. 2 Christmas trees? How hifalutin are you?!

    At least you don't have 3 trees. You've really got to be OVER THE TOP to have 3 trees.

    The ZZUBs are in full on pre-Christmas celebration. I teased the little ZZUBs last night at dinner that we should get up early this morning (Christmas Eve) and practice opening all of our presents. Do a dry run if you will. That way we'll know what order to have them open them Christmas morning and whether we need to re-order the opening line up. The little ZZUBs thought I was serious at first. Until ZZUBY figured out I had to be kidding.

    It's interesting you mentioned enjoying giving more than receiving. As I was having my quiet time this morning, I was thanking God for the joy we feel in sharing what He's blessed us with. And I wondered when it was in my life that I began enjoying giving more than receiving. I don't know exactly. But I do know that I enjoy watching Mrs. Z and the little Zs open their gifts, I like watching our friends enjoy our home and fine food on Christmas Eve more than I enjoy anything else.

    In a completely unrelated note, I was in a meeting this week where the presenter was discussing the Fraud Triangle. My mind immediately went to a handful of imaginary friends who would know where I first heard that term used.

    Merry Christmas all!


  4. Merry Day after Christmas (aka Boxing Day)!!

    La, that was a lovely post. You did a great job capturing the excitement and anticipation and how fun it is to BE the little one experiencing it as well as to be the parent granting it and taking it all in with joy. I remember both like they were yesterday. Enjoy it while it lasts! The only way I could get my oldest out of bed yesterday morning was to start cooking bacon. ; ) And the gift stash, though expensive, wasn't all that exciting or visually impressive. Still, spending time with family and enjoying the season are always wonderful!

    I hope your Christmas morning was all that and a bag of chips! Same to the rest of you. Merry merry!

  5. Great post! My house too has the artifical tree complete with white lights, cashmere tips, and carefully placed glass ornaments. Then we go to my parents and do the real tree - gaudy with colored lights, homemade ornaments and crazy ones, silver icicles - full to bursting. And it feels like home and being a kid :) May
    God bless the great writers of this blog in 2011, you guys all keep my faith in humanity alive :)

  6. Gee-whiz LaLa, I had to close the door to my office when I read this!!! I don't get misty-eyed very often, but this was so good on so many levels. God's ultimate Christmas gift, being a kid and sneaking around with your sibling(s) on Christmas morning, even the little "Charlie Brown" tree.
    That last one really hit home. When Mrs. Uncle Goofy and I were first married, we were both fresh out of Grad school. We literally had less than zero disposable income. Yet we would scrap together what we could and get the scrawniest tree on the lot...our "Charlie Brown" tree. We would fix it up as best we could (we even had a very small Nativity set with crack pieces). It wasn't much to look at, but it was ours. It reminded us how true, unconditional, sacrificial love can make anything beautiful. Just like the Incarnation of Christ.
    After years of blessings from the Lord, we have a big tree and tons of decorations inside and out. Yet we still set out a "Charlie Brown" tree to reminder us of our humble beginnings and what Linus said best after reading Luke chapter 2, "That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."

  7. Great post LaLa!

    I read it a few days ago, but was unable to return to post until now. I loved your insight concerning God’s perspective on giving gifts to His children. I hope that your family had a great Christmas.

    I’m also cracking up over imagining Zzub giving the gift opening training run speech to the little Zzubs. And yet it really doesn’t come as a surprise.

  8. My friend, LaLa. You sure do have a way with the written word. And this may be your best "word picture" yet. Like GB, I read this several days ago, among the hustle and bustle that is Christmas prep in the NM household, and didn't have time to respond. But tonight, while I have an evening to myself and am enjoying some quality time with my laptop, (and the DELICIOUS cheese ball one of my neighbors brought us on Christmas Eve) I read it again. There's really nothing I can say except "well done". I loved every word and appreciate you writing it for us.

    Much love to ya, sweet friend -


  9. What a shock! NM was eating a cheeseball.

    ASHCLAN! You're seriously going to walk right past the Fraud Triangle and make NO comment on it?! Next you're going to tell me you're no longer attending the Week Ahead meetings.


  10. That was beautiful Lala...simply beautiful...

    Happy New Year...

  11. Happy New Year to YOU my sweet friend! And the rest of you as well. Hope 2011 turns out to be the best one yet.

    Thanks for all of your sweet comments. Uncle Goofy, I LOVED reading about your Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The fact that yall still have one to remind you of how far you've come touches my heart. Ash (LOVE and MISS you, girlie!), NM, GB, Motherofboys, thanks so much for taking the time to stop in and post a lil sumpm sumpm. Hope all of you had a great Christmas. Ours was "the best one yet", as our kids put it. The boy has been rockin' his electric guitar and the girl has been steadily adding new songs to her repertoire since receiving her Mack Daddy keyboard. We're two steps away from starting a garage band.

    Maybe one day ZZUB will be downloading the LaLas on iTines. Instead of the usual...Hanson.

    Psst. ZZUB. I thought NM WAS a cheeseball.