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Struggling to find my holiday cheer

For me, Christmas has always been a magical time of year: The season of giving, generosity, and cheer. The smiles, hugs, and warm greetings you see as you pass others on the street. It’s people opening up their homes to loved ones, celebrating the birth of Christ, singing joyous songs. And if a blanket of snow gently lays itself on the front lawn, well, my heart will grow three sizes. But this year is different. This year I am struggling to get “into the spirit”.

I thoroughly enjoy forcing my kids and husband into cute outfits so that we can have one family picture taken each year that I am also a part of (Moms are usually behind the camera). It brings me to joy to find the perfect present for someone and watch them open it. I can’t wait for each morning to put on Christmas music in the kitchen and dance around with my boys. I love taking a full day to bake Christmas cookies so I can make peanut butter cookies and stuff multiple Hershey kisses on top (For those interested: 3:1 is the perfect kiss to cookie ratio). If I could one day have a mound of perfectly wrapped presents under my tree (you know, like those Pinteresters do), I would feel like a champion. I haven’t done any of that this year. I’m actually surprised our tree is even decorated.

I am in two family Secret Santa’s and I can’t bring myself to finish buying their presents. I have a box full of gifts for my boys and I can’t manage to find time to wrap them. I haven’t baked Christmas cookies, and honestly don’t want to. We never took a family picture for a Christmas card, but I cringe at the thought of not sending one out. I’m struggling to even think about Christmas when I know that so many families in our Community are struggling.

I’m certain the headlines about the deadly school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, made its way to your preferred news channels. I would like to say that, for us in Michigan, this is too close to home. The reality is that, for anyone, this is too close to home because something like this should never happen. This shooter did not just change the lives of those eleven individuals and their families, but his actions impacted the entire community in so many ways. We have had over two weeks to process this, but I think we will need a lifetime or two to fully understand it.

I try to imagine what went through those children’s minds as they locked classroom doors and weaponized themselves with scissors, calculators, anything they could to attack Ethan Crumbley should he happen to make his way inside their classroom. Imagine how scared Tate Myre must have been as he charged his schoolmate to try and wrestle the gun from him. What courage that kid had. Imagine what bystanders must be going through as they constantly relive the memory of watching their classmates get shot.

Am I dwelling on this? Maybe in some moments, but how can we not? My heart goes out to any parent who has a child in school and is now fearful of putting them on a bus everyday. My heart aches for the families of those impacted. Honestly, I have so many emotions around this I’m not always certain how to articulate them. But one thing remains steadfast: So often, but this Christmas Season especially, I’m reminded that the only important thing is the precious time I am able to spend with my loved ones.

As I figure out what I can do to help these families in our community, I know that I still need to be here for my family. I will go to our family cookie day so I can watch my nephews and boys cover themselves in frosting and sprinkles that can only be removed with a fire hose. I will ask my husband to spend an evening with me wrapping presents after the children go to bed. I will try and think of gifts for my Secret Santas that allow me to spend more time with them. (Forced Family Fun??). And I will say, Screw it!, to Christmas cards and not feel like a bad mom. Wherever you choose to spend your time and energy this Holiday Season, remember that life is so precious. Please cherish each and every wacky moment with your crazy family - it doesn’t get any better than that.