It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also the busiest, the craziest, and the saddest for some. There’s a lot of pressure to buy the right gifts, prepare the right appetizers, to begin the right family traditions.

In my regular attempts to keep things simple, I tend to complicate matters. (Yes, my life is an oxymoron.) I try not to get too wrapped up in all the hustle and bustle, but inevitably, I do. I’ve been so busy with sick kids and work that we haven’t visited Santa or viewed Christmas lights. I hope to get around to it, but if not, my kids are still young enough to not know the difference, and I’m okay with that. It’s all about keeping my sanity, really.

This year, I really wanted to focus on the true meaning of the season and communicate that to my 3 year old. The first step was not letting that creepy Elf on the Shelf step foot into my house, but that is for another post.

I started with us singing Christmas carols every day, something I remember doing with my mom as a child. While she misses about every fifth word, my girl can certainly carry a tune and my heart skips a beat every time she hits the high note in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It just brings me pure joy.

When the time had come to begin pulling out decorations, I could feel Eleanor’s growing excitement. Her giggling and dancing about was just contagious, infectious even. I began to channel my inner Charlie Brown, and I thought, “It’s not all about the trees, and Santa and Frosty and Rudolph. It’s not about that.” As I was digging through my decorations, I stumbled upon a box of goodies I bought on sale after Christmas last year: a Fisher Price sleigh and reindeer set, a plush Rudolph and heavily adorned Christmas oven mitts. I just shook my Charlie Brown head. Just then, I noticed at the bottom of the box, a book - God Gave Us Christmas.

Yes!

It was like that moment when you’re sitting in your parked car and you pull down the visor and open the mirror to check your makeup. The sun is shining brightly, directly on your face. And you’re just so happy when you realize your tweezers are in your makeup bag.

It was THAT kind of big moment.

As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I remembered how I felt when I bought the book last year. I had told myself that “next year” Eleanor would be old enough to understand what Christmas was really all about.

It’s a book about a curious, young cub who asks her mama bear who invented Christmas and it quickly leads to other questions like, “Is God more important than Santa?” Mama and the little cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and the young cub learns about the very first Christmas and ultimately discovers God’s love and that Jesus is the reason for the season.

I cannot express how much I love this little book.

I had read it for several nights and then it got pushed aside. Then one night, Eleanor asked to read the teddy bear book. We got to the part that shows a live nativity and she looked at me with those big, wide eyes and said with much enthusiasm, “Mama! Christmas is Jesus’s birthday! Mama! We gotta get Jesus a birthday cake!”

She asked how old Jesus would be for his birthday and why we had Santa and it was one of those magical mommy moments. She’d gotten the message.

In my quest to find the perfect, matching Christmas pajamas for the baby and toddler to wear Christmas Eve night, my 3-year-old had found the true meaning of Christmas, and on Christmas Eve, we will make a birthday cake for Jesus because she said so. While it certainly isn’t an original thought, this will be our family tradition starting this year.

We still sing Christmas carols about decking the halls and jingling bells and I’ll probably still overdo it on the gifts and matching outfits, but we’ll be celebrating a day that comes but once a year, the birth of Christ, the greatest gift of all.

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