1am on Christmas Day is too late to fix any of the Christmas planning errors I may have made during the preceding weeks. All those might-have-been trimmings and trappings circle in my brain instead of the visions of sugar plums which Clement Clark Moore assures me are what should be dancing about in there. Of course I have trouble visualizing sugar plums anyway, having never seen one. (Except that, of course, now I have, since I googled it the moment I finished typing that sentence. So now I know. I still don’t expect to be dreaming of them any time soon.)
The truth is that the best possible preparation I can make to ensure a happy Christmas day is to love and teach my children all year long. This means that whatever joys or disappointments arrive with the festivities, we’ve already got the tools and the sturdy relationships to manage. If the lack of a particular item on Christmas morning is truly traumatizing, then something far more fundamental is wrong. I know this. I believe this. I know my kids are fantastic people and that they are as much focused on the things they are giving as on the things they hope to receive. Everything is set up to be a lovely day. This does not stop me from slipping out of bed and sneaking a little bit of cash into each stocking. It is a small gesture which will bring joy tomorrow. It is worth doing even if the impulse behind it is my guilty conscience. As I said to Howard “How can it possibly be enough if I didn’t spend a month fretting over it?”
But it can. And it is. This is the secret of Christmas. It exists no matter how much time I spend creating it or trying to ignore it. This year our usual round of Christmas festivities was paused for an hour-long excursion to church. I love it when Christmas falls on Sunday for this very reason. However it does present a challenge for the youngest of my family. He did his mighty best to sit still and listen to songs about Jesus while his mind and heart were back home poking packages under the Christmas tree.
In the end my fretting was unnecessary. Each of us received pretty much exactly what the poem states:
Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read
It is the recipe for a lovely Christmas day.