This was my first Christmas away from home, and up until now it has been horrible.
I miss the biscotti and cocoa, the fire, the laughs and inside jokes, the tiny tree and the kris kringle gifts that we always try to guess and always get wrong. I even miss the fights and the anger that always comes from someone who pouts, usually me.
This morning as I watched my cousins open their presents, I thought back to all those Christmases, when there was magic in the air in my mother's christmas CD we knew all the words too because we played it every year, in the decorations, the homemade ornaments that made our tree unique, different from anyone elses. When we felt the glow and excitement of waking up in the morning to find presents under the tree. It was almost like every Christmas everyone got along perfectly, because everyone was happy.
The thing I remembered most was the presents, especially the ones my parents got for us all to share, those were the most expensive. But it wasn't about the stuff anymore, and now I realize why it was okay to them to break their backs working and spend all their money to bring us something worthwhile. It was the look on our faces, the same look I now see in my brother's faces as they open their gifts. It was the chorus of thank yous, and the fact that this year was going to be a little bit easier, funner, or better because of what they gave us.
I still remember every gift, and now thinking back I can recall why it was that we got them. The thought put into each present choice was apparent, and the love that went into giving I still see today. Whether it was the portable DVD player that made our long drives bearable, the scooters that made playing outside and taking long rides more fun, or the bean bags that we used in front of the TV, and even as toys to throw at each other and put on our heads to pretend we were mushrooms. I have a memory with each of those gifts, and many more, but it was never about the thing itself, even when I was a kid.
I will be eternally grateful for everything that I have been given this year and the years before. I used to complain that I never had what other kids did, lots of money and cool stuff, a big house, my own room. But now I realize I have so much more than that. I have a family thats big and crazy and loves me, I have parents that are still together that will do anything even if they can't afford it just so I can be happy and have a good life. I have a father that works so hard and still will drive to Long Beach if I need something simple. A mother who talks to me for hours, buys me food and always asks what I need when I go home. An older brother who will drive as much as he needs just to see me before Christmas, and will hang out with me over hanging out with friends. A sister who admires and looks up to me, and is my best friend through thick and thin, one I trust with my life and my secrets. And two little brothers who miss me and shower me with love and kisses and homemade gifts whenever I go home.
God gave me this, and I have had it every Christmas since the day I was born. The magic of Christmas, although it isn't the same anymore, is still there, and being on the other side and watching children open gifts instead of having others watch me, has been an enormous blessing in disguise. Because the stuff doesn't matter, its the love that came with my parents giving everything they had to make us happy.
Christmas for me now isn't about getting, its about sacrifice. And God sacrificed everything he had for the greatest gift of all, eternal life. I see God in my family even more than I ever have, and having them in my life is better than any gift I could ever give or get, because without them I would not be who I am today, without them I cannot imagine how life would even be worth it. So all I want for Christmas this year, is the magic of home.