Lesson From A Teenager

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’Twas barely Thanksgiving when my 15-year-old boy asked, “Mom, can I bring up the Christmas boxes?” So excited, he was practically bursting. “Oh, man, it’s not even Thanksgiving, honey!”
    “So what?!” he exclaimed, jiggling his knees, already heading for the basement stairs. And up they came, one by one. I barely had time to throw a protective sheet down on the dining room table before the first box landed with a thud.
     “Careful! You don’t know what’s inside that box, something can break!”
     “It’s marked ‘Byers’ Carolers,’ Mom, it’s fine!” he said, whisking around and running back for more.
I love telling you this because it shows that my teenager is still a kid at heart — he’d hate you to know he likes to decorate with me. Teenagers work so hard to be cool, uninterested … and definitely not into Christmas decorating with their mom.
     But he loves decorating, and we’ve been doing it together since he could toddle. First, he did unbreakables only, then gradually he matured enough to handle my collection of snow globes. And here we go.
     Sigh.
    Why must we drag trees into our homes and string them with lights and all manner of dangly things from tiny hooks? Why must we bake cookies, make candy, play holiday music, knock ourselves out with shopping, wrapping, light displays, get togethers?
     Because we are a people of tradition. Of giving and receiving, of desiring things we cherish and trust. Every year, we each go after some idea we formed as a kid … an idea for the best Christmas ever … and sometimes it comes together, sometimes it doesn’t.
     On the inside cover of an old cookbook I wrote a paragraph about a past failed Christmas. I burnt the cookies. The tree actually fell. Things just did not come together. I wrote to remind myself of what I DON’T want to happen again.
     But Christmas can’t actually fail, only people can!
     Here’s my boy running all over the house placing treasured decorations here and there. He’s INTO IT. He’s celebrating, giving, sharing. He’s getting a jump on all of those good things and wanting me to join in, too.
     I can’t waste this moment, it’s too good. No more writing hapless paragraphs about what went wrong. Heart adjusted, I’m following my 15-year-old to success: Let Christmas begin!

Susan Swindell Day is editor in chief of this publication and the mom of four great kids.

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