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To My Kids on Christmas Morning...

Christmas morning is truly magical. One mama pours out her heart and her hopes and wishes for her kids of various ages on Christmas morning in this open-letter style piece.
little girl sleeping under tree on christmas morning
Updated: December 1, 2022

It’s funny what you remember — and don’t remember — about the Christmas mornings of your youth when you grow up. Looking back, I remember the excitement on my brothers’ faces as they woke me up to tell me Santa had come. I remember the pure joy I felt one year to discover that a little package I unwrapped contained Little Mermaid underwear — which is exactly what I had been wanting. I remember not being allowed to open any presents until both my parents were present, which meant we were always left waiting for my father to get his coffee before we could begin. Nothing, and I mean nothing, feels longer than waiting for your parent to get their coffee on Christmas morning.

More: How to Enjoy the Holidays Like a Kid Again

Though, I can’t quite remember some of the details that felt so important to me back then. When did we open our stockings? Did we have any special breakfast traditions? Was there a time we were allowed to come downstairs, or could we spring from our beds as soon as we opened our eyes?

Time flies by so fast that one year’s Christmas memory blends into another’s, and even as a child I knew I wanted to soak up some of those magical moments to savor throughout the year.

In our house, we open presents before stockings. Our breakfast tradition involves Monkey Bread and chocolate milk. We also don’t open presents until both me and your father are in the room, and who would have believed it, but each year, I’m the one who usually arrives last after getting my first cup of coffee.

As I write this, you’re still upstairs sleeping. You haven’t ran down the stairs yet to see if Santa came or torn open the presents at lightning speed barely looking to see what’s inside. You’re recovering from a late night filled with candy and cookies at your Nana’s evening party, but soon — quite soon — the first of you will tiptoe down the stairs, no longer wondering if Santa came, but instead wanting to get the very first glimpse of Christmas morning for yourself. You’ll ask if it’s alright to wake your younger sister, and then you’ll both roll down the stairs in a fit of excitement only to wake the baby from sleep in her crib.

You won’t understand this now, but my wish for you this year is to stop and savor every moment. Savor the moment of being half-asleep with the tree lit and the presents piled up in front. Savor the feeling of excitement as you wonder which pile belongs to you, hoping of course that it’s the biggest one. Savor the excitement of opening a wrapped present, guessing what’s inside, and the thrill you feel as you want to stop to open and play with a gift before even unwrapping the next.

For me, the beauty of this year is that all of you are at different ages, which means you’re all gleaning something different from the holiday.

More: Should I Tell My Child the Truth About Santa?

To my twelve-year-old, my oldest:

I hope you remember the pure joy and belief on your sisters’ faces, and know that you had a part in putting it there. You’re seeing Christmas through a different lens, but like a kaleidoscope, the picture is just as beautiful when things shift. I hope you give in, even if it’s just slightly, to that seed of belief inside of you that begs you to believe again that Santa is still real. Know that it’s the spirit of the season that’s so magical, and not just the story. This is just the beginning of a different approach to the holidays; it’s not the end of anything.

To my three-year-old, my middle child:

This is the first year that you both understand the story of Christmas and also have a want for specific presents. I hope you remember what it felt like to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, desperately wanting to keep your eyes open in the hopes of seeing Santa, but falling asleep in pure exhaustion. I hope you remember the frenzy of each moment as you tear open your presents only to discover the next best thing. I hope you see how happy people are to receive all of your crafted gifts, because they know you put forth your best effort to make those presents all by yourself.

To my baby, only two-months-old and experiencing the holidays for the first time:

While you may not even begin to understand what’s happening around you, I believe that you can feel the magic just as much, if not more than the rest of us. The twinkle of the lights in the tree mesmerize you, and you stare at them longer than any toy we put in front of you. Not concerned in any way about presents, but instead presence, I hope you remember the way everyone’s faces look when they hold you or look at you. In you they see possibility. They see the future of every Christmas to come.

I hope you all know how much it means to us to watch you experience this holiday at every age. It won’t be long before you sleep in, and the early morning wake-ups are a thing of the past. Then, you’ll slowly begin to craft your own traditions. Know that the seed of all your future wonderful Christmas mornings began at home with us. Those ornaments that will one day adorn your trees are looking down on you now, bearing witness to the pure joy and excitement on your face. They’ll follow you into the next chapter of your lives as a memory of all the beautiful holidays you experiences as a child.

May every future Christmas be as magical as I expect this one to be for all of you.

Love always,

Your mama

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Erin Ollila

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