There is something magical about Christmas. It's a light in the darkness of winter, glowing brightly as we rush toward the New Year. Houses alit in white and candy-colored lights are awe-inspiring. Trees in windows evoke warm gatherings and full homes on cold winter nights.
In short: it's one of my favorite holidays.
A year ago was Oscar's first Christmas. We traveled to Ohio to be with our families. He spent Christmas tearing wrapping paper away from boxes full of treats and toys. He saw snow and looked at our tree, but his first Christmas was nothing compared with Christmas this year.
In comparison, this year Christmas has been magical. Our first experience with a tree was in the lobby outside the coffee shop, decorated in rainbow colors. Had I let him, we would have stayed for hours just looking at the gorgeous globe ornaments cascading from the top of the tree.
When we finally decorated our tree a week after Thanksgiving, he was thrilled to see it go up and eagerly dug out (plastic) ornament after ornament to adorn the tree.
The lower third of our tree was the most decorated part in the first moments after we got it up, and it was gorgeous.
As the season progressed, we made plans. For advent this year, I decided that we would do some sort of activity a day that related in some way to Christmas. One day it was making salt dough ornaments. Another was painting Christmas trees - loving referred to by Oz as a "Crimcriss" tree - be still my heart. Each day we pulled down a card with an activity on it, and save for some (minor) rearranging, we stuck to the schedule as planned.
And there was more magic. One night we planned to go see the enormous tree at the Cowboys' practice facility, not far from home. It stands at least two stories tall, adorned with lights and ornaments and a huge star at the top. Once again, he was filled with joy - so much joy. I couldn't get him away from the tree and I didn't want to.
"Wow, mama, wow! Pretty tree! Wow!" He kept gushing.
I realized just how wonderful this time of year is for little ones, and I started to see the season through his eyes. He sees the lights, the trees, and the presents and he sees magic. When else do we bring a tree (real or fake) indoors, cover it in lights, baubles, stuffed animals, and set it to glow brightly day and night?
When does a normal trip to the gym sparkle, with trees wrapped in white lights adorning the roadway, and houses outlined and covered in lights and projections of snow?
When does every day become an adventure full of magic and beauty to fill the imagination? And when else do we load up on sugar to share with friends?
I can't think of another time of year filled with this much togetherness.
The most magic we've experienced leading up to Christmas this year was a night at the zoo. We're members and when members' night popped up, I was right there. I wanted to see the zoo adorned in lights throughout. I wanted to experience the magic of lights aglow on a cold night.
That is exactly what we did. We arrived early, saw animals before they went to bed, and at dusk, the zoo lit up. Bright, colorful. The music show was happy and toe-tapping, featuring music from classics like Carol of the Bells, to kid-friendly, with Let It Go being the biggest hit of the night.
It took my everything to move on from the music and down a walkway with gorgeous lit-up birds overhead, and we were surrounded by white and multi-colored lights as we walked to the center of the light show. There, Oscar lit up: there were light sculptures shaped like animals.
The magic, though, came in the small train we rode through the lights. He squealed. Giggled up until the end when he grinned and waved to the train as it took another passenger load through and near Santa's village.
It filled me with joy and warmth, and in our four hours at the zoo, I never once stopped smiling. His happiness was contagious and I was sad when our night came to an end.
Sharing Christmas with my son has been, so far, one of the most wonderful parts of my year. I love watching his face light up when he spots another light display, and hear him point out every Christmas tree we pass has been eye-opening.
I realized just how much I miss as I move from one point to another, even as I try to be intentional, and just how fleeting this season of life is.
I decided that as we move through Christmas and into the New Year that next year we will focus on slow and enjoyment. On taking our time to see everything, even if it means going very slowly.
Life moves so quickly and the magic of time through my child's eyes is going to be fleeting.
I loved Christmas before and I love it even more now - lights, lawn blow-ups, and all.