My Grown-Up Christmas

Driving home just now, Michael Bublé’s Grown-Up Christmas List came on, and I burst into tears. That song has always gotten to me. A few years ago, I discovered it while making a slideshow for my parents, and I came across this photo:

Jen Christmas 1980

Something about pairing the two, even just in my head, now, makes the tears start flowing. It’s something in that first line: Do you remember me? I sat upon your knee. I spoke to you of childhood fantasies. That little girl? She loves her parents completely. She depends on them for everything she has and needs in the world. She knows they love her and that all is right in the world, and that Christmas is wonderful.

She didn’t know that her parents scrimped and saved, and felt badly, sometimes, because there were (in their opinion) meager offerings under the tree. She had no idea how to compare with what others might have been getting, or even any thought in her head to do so. Instead, she was simply thrilled that Santa came, and that he, and her family, loved her enough to give her anything to unwrap.

Last year, our boys turned ten, and while one of them was clearly only hanging on to the idea of Santa because he wasn’t quite sure it was OK to let go, the other was still completely sold. As little as I wanted to take anything so sweet from my child, I worried that kids at school would do it for me, and less kindly. Justin and I decided that we’d write a sweet letter explaining Santa, and put it in our boys’ stockings. I agonized for days over the words—how to explain to our sons the reasons we had perpetuated, in essence, a lie, but express the beauty and magic of it? How to help them understand that so many other things we taught them, which were wrapped up in similar hope and belief, were still true? It was small, but one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to write, and I poured my heart into it. We printed it on parchment paper, and wrapped it with a velvet-strung bell, so they’d remember the message of belief they’d learned from the book The Polar Express.


I found myself in tears as my boys read those letters. The face of my son who still believed, in particular, was a mass of deep emotions as he came to terms with the truth. This week, as we were cleaning out their bedroom, I noticed that he still had my letter posted on his bulletin board. Those words I had agonized over are on his wall, where he can see them daily.

As I listen to this song, I can’t help but think of my son, his precious faith, and that other carefree little girl in her sweet innocence. There is a tenderness about her that I miss more and more, as I age, and sometimes I feel I’m missing a bit of that magic of Christmastime that only children really capture. But today, I think I realize what the beauty of Christmas is as an adult: it’s parenthood.

It’s loving a child so much that you’ll sacrifice to try and provide whatever you can from their list.
It’s spending time wrapping books so you unwrap one a night and read them together.
It’s rolling out cookie/cinnamon/clay dough to make ornaments or treats as a family.
It’s making special meals or those traditional foods you always have, even when you’re tired after a long day.
It’s combing Pinterest for weird crafts to make together, because they grow up too fast.
It’s watching your husband make snowmen with the kids, and having it turn into a huge snowball fight.
It’s having your Christmas tree undecorated for five days, because the kids really want to help decorate it, and school and activities have kept them too busy all week. Even though you know you’ll just have to move half the ornaments anyway, because they always put them all in one big clump.
It’s singing hymns around the piano together.
It’s driving around and looking at Christmas lights, just to see the wonder in their eyes.
It’s staying up until 2 a.m. to put that playhouse/kitchen/bicycle together, and then getting up again to open everything at 6.
It’s the beauty of knowing that your children, someday, will have photos just like the one at the top of this page. And they’ll be able to look back and remember that you, like my parents, loved them more than they ever could have known.

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Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy the season, and your families. May you feel the love and influence of the Savior in your homes at this time of year, and always.❤

4 thoughts on “My Grown-Up Christmas

  1. would you be willing to share the letter you wrote? i’m wondering how to do the exact same thing with kendall, who at 10 1/2 is still as trusting/believing as she was when she was a little toddler!

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