Our First Christmas

Kimberlie Derrick is a wife and mom of two. She’s also an endometriosis survivor, a freelance writer, mommy blogger, homecooking, home-schooling, lover of Christ. More at justahotmess.com.

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Every year for the past 34, I have walked downstairs, driven or flown home to spend the holidays with my parents and many siblings. This year will be the first that I host Christmas at my own home with just my little family. My husband was transferred to the East Coast for work last year but we still managed to make it home to spend time with our large families for the Christmas holiday in 2015. The year 2016 has been a bit different, I have had some major-medical issues resulting in some major-medical bills. But I am better than ever now and my family has survived the journey. However, this year my husband and I have made the commitment to save a little money and try for a Happy Holidays with our two young sons right here at home.

At first, I got a little choked up every time I thought about missing Christmas with my folks. We have so many traditions, starting with shipping all my presents down to Texas a few weeks early. Then my family and I usually arrive a few days before Christmas day. I go out for mani/pedis, drinks, and last minute shopping with my younger sis. I help my mom wrap up her final presents and we place everything under their giant Christmas tree. Christmas eve, I always cook dinner and bake cookies for Santa. And Christmas morning I make a huge breakfast and coffee and hot chocolate bar that everyone enjoys after opening presents. How could I miss out on all these family traditions? I decided I couldn’t, so I called up all my family members and most of my husband’s and invited everyone up to our home. We didn’t get any hits. Everyone in our entire family on both sides lives in Texas. So, everyone would have to travel in order to stay with us and we hardly have enough room to offer up more than one bedroom. It would be a costly endeavor for each and every member of our large clan so I didn’t push the issue further. I was feeling pretty down though, I didn’t realize that I was “showing” my feelings until my three-year-old, Isaiah, asked me if this all meant that we would miss Christmas this year. This small, sweet boy and his large chocolate eyes asking me about missing probably one of the most important days of the year in his little short life broke my heart. It was like he was asking me if he would not get to have a birthday or something. So, I quickly got my act together.

I am a mom now. I am a wife. I run this happy house 360+ days a year with cheerfulness, excitement, and love. And I’ll be darned if this Christmas season isn’t one of my finest productions. Usually, we pull our tiny old tree out of the attic and I let the kids stick on a few non-breakable cheap type ornaments and we place a couple of very small gifts underneath to give the kids something to look forward to on the sometimes-sad flight home. No mas! If this is our first Christmas as a family, it will be one for the record books. I have ordered a medium-sized live Christmas tree to pick up the day after thanksgiving. We are not only picking out new ornaments, we will be making a variety of homemade decorations to place on the tree as well. My husband has requested a popcorn trim; Isaiah wants some sort of multicolored miniature apples with glitter (he is only three…) and I will be creating an “antique looking” angel holding a light-up star to perch on the top of the tree. My shipment of matching footie PJs for the entire family is set to arrive in just days from Amazon.

I have realized the best thing about missing out on my usual traditions is creating new ones! Just like the things I have come to feel as normal to my Christmas experience I now have the opportunity to make Christmas unforgettable for my children. I took a second (ok, four hours) browsing Pinterest for holiday ideas for children and my brain literally exploded. There are so many cool things to try! One of my favorites, and one we will definitely be trying is leaving tickets on my kids beds one night to go out and look at Christmas lights, dressed in our holiday PJs with travel mugs of Hot Chocolate. The more I plan our holiday, the more excited I feel.

The point of the holidays, isn’t a gift or even a place. It’s about the people you are around and what you believe the is reason for the season. People get so caught up in the what, when, and where that we lose the point of who Christmas day is about and for us its Jesus’ birthday! It’s a fundamental part of our faith. So, no matter where we are, at home or abroad, I will work to make sure my family never forgets what it’s all about. That feeling that we all get around this time of year is not about what’s waiting under the tree, it’s about the people sitting next to you around that tree, or table, or menorah. So many people can’t get “home” this holiday season and I am hoping that each of you find a way to give a whole new meaning to the most wonderful time of the year… I sure did.