There’s just something magical about a 4-year-old.
When you’re 4 years old at Christmas time, there’s magic everywhere you look. Beautifully decorated trees and houses. Twinkling lights throughout the neighborhood. A month filled with Christmas crafts at school, writing letters to Santa (and the Blue Devil, naturally) and a daily countdown to The Big Day.
I thought it couldn’t get much better than Christmas with a 3-year-old last year, but this year, the wonder and joy that oozed out of every cell of my child was more than I expected.
As long as I live (or at least as I long as I read my own blog), I’ll never forget that when she was 4, E. still called candy canes candy cans. Every hour of every day, I could hear her singing Christmas songs, sometimes getting the words right and sometimes the words were only right to her (“Maleese Mommyda” stood in for “Feliz Navidad”). And sometimes, no matter how many times Mommy explained what “good tidings we bring” and “last Christmas I gave you my heart” means, you weren’t going to understand and you just didn’t care — you were still going to sing them often and loudly.
I’ll never forget that thanks to the power of the Internet and knowing what she holds special, I’d create a personalized Santa video that took her breath away.
I’ll never forget my mom and I taking E. to her first Christmas Eve candlelight church service and watching her face as she joined the rest of the congregation to raise her candle toward the sky and sing “Silent Night.” She felt the magic and spirit in that moment. I know it.
I’ll never forget her excitement for leaving out cookies for Santa and the Blue Devil and carrots for Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Or how much time she spent deciding exactly which cookies she should leave out, how many and how she worried that Santa would actually eat them ALL and not save any for her (he did leave her some, by the way).
I’ll never forget how she never wavered, beginning in October, about what she really, really, really wanted from Santa — a Jake and the Neverland Pirates toy. And I’ll never forget that moment I watched her wish come true.
But I’ll also never forget that despite a giant pile of presents just for her, before she opened any of her own, she was DYING for me and DadJovi to open the presents she’d picked out at school and wrapped herself.
Daddy got a flashlight and I got a heart-shaped, chocolate-scented candle. When she couldn’t hold it in any longer, she told me two weeks ago that my present was heart-shaped. It’s probably the best gift I’ve ever received. I never understood how moms used to love junk like that, but when you know that your child not only picked it out herself but would rather watch you open it than open any of hers? Well, that’s the kind of moment that makes your heart ache with the beauty of the moment.
I’ll never forget E’s excitement (with a touch of nervousness) for her Christmas Day piano recital for our family.
And I’ll never forget that even when her nerves got the best of her, she took a moment to find her place and the show went on.
I’ll never forget how special it is to have a house full of family and friends gathered on Christmas Day. This year’s crew included the three of us, my mom and stepdad, DadJovi’s dad and stepmom, my grandparents and our close friends.
But mostly, in a year filled with so much sorrow and loss, I’ll never forget looking around the room throughout the day and just thanking God for my healthy family and that we could share the day together.
I hope each and every one of you, no matter how much you’ve endured this year, found some moments of pure joy this holiday season, too.