The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year, as if it’s a surprise. I decorate my office with Christmas lights, blast Christmas music from my car, and watch Elf as many times as I can. Like any little kid I would wake up on Christmas morning and sneak a look at my presents, and beg my parents to get up at the crack of dawn to open presents.
Some of my favorite memories involved Christmas at my Grandmas house. I swear the Christmas tree was always so tall that it could reach the ceiling. In my mind there were hundreds of presents under the tree to match the size of my family. We would have my grandma’s famous cinnamon rolls, except for that random year she served us fruit, and everyone would eat breakfast before they opened presents.
To say my family was huge is an understatement. It was always so loud and so full of joy as my grandpa would pass out presents and we would wait for every kid to have a present before we tore them open without even looking at who it was from.
Christmas was magical.
I know it sounds cheesy, but it was as wonderful as the thought of snow on Christmas morning.
Things took a turn two days after Thanksgiving in 2010.
My family was out shopping when we got the worst news.
The drive back home was silent.
The feeling of pain sat in my stomach and felt like it would never leave.
I hate thinking about it, and I usually try not to.
My grandpa was the coolest person I knew.
He was tiny and mighty.
Tough and loving.
He would never get mad at me because he loved me so much more than I probably knew.
Losing someone around the holidays is the hardest thing anyone can ever go through.
You see images of people singing Christmas carols with their families and smiling around the Christmas tree, and the last thing you want to do is force a smile.
Things were different that year, everyone was still close, but it was like our rock was gone. Even though he spent most of the time after Christmas dinner asleep in his chair, he was still the most special part of the day.
And I didn’t realize it until after he was gone.
My sister and I made it our goal the Christmas after that year to be as happy as we could.
We baked Christmas cookies and gave them to everyone we could.
We listened to the Christmas music radio station every time we drove to school.
We got a little tree for our bedroom and decorated it.
It was nice to try and see the best in a tough time. Forcing smiles and spreading holiday cheer was easier than thinking about the loss we had a year ago.
Since that year I have wanted to make sure I spend Christmas the right way. Be as happy as I can, spend as much time with my family as I can, and enjoy every second of it all.
I think that’s why I get so excited when I see Elf on TV and hear Wham’s Last Christmas on the radio. It means that magical time of year is here.
That time of year that I’m reminded just how much my family means to me and how important it is to make the best out of the holiday.
I have encountered people who aren’t always so excited about Christmas as I am. My early Christmas music makes them roll their eyes or they insist on reminding me that it’s not even Thanksgiving, and that’s totally ok. Everyone can celebrate the holidays whenever and however they please, I just wish that everyone could see the magic in it like I do.
That sounds so cheesy.
Calling a holiday magical.
But it is.
I just love trying to see the magic in what was once a hard time.
And it still is.
You always want your loved ones around, especially during the holidays.
But when they aren’t you can’t do anything but try and see the magic in it to honor them as well as you can.
That’s how I saw it at 20 and that’s how I still see it today.
Especially now that I have my own little family.
I want so bad to create this magical winter wonderland that Ian is in awe of. I want to see him stare at Christmas lights and believe in Santa his whole life.
I want him to have memories of Christmas morning like I have.
I want him to look at his grandpa passing out gifts the way I use to look at mine.
That’s why I turn into Buddy the Elf during Christmas, and why I listen to Christmas music in November.
I don’t know any other way.
I want to experience the magic of Christmas that I did when I was little, and I want Ian to experience the same.