Although every child looks forward to Christmas, our youngest daughter, Jennifer, has always seemed to connect more with the holiday than her siblings. Before she became a teenager, once the tree was decorated, she would spend almost every night sitting next to it, snuggled under a blanket, reading a book. And even if I didn’t join her in the living room, I got enjoyment out of the Christmas tree just from watching her.
However, now that she is in high school, shopping and going to movies with her friends during her free evenings over Winter Break holds a lot more appeal than sitting by the Christmas tree. This year, instead of spending time next to the tree, she took a picture of it and made it the wallpaper on her cell phone so she can enjoy it the glow of the lights every time she takes out her phone to send a text.
Christmas was certainly still important to her, but I wondered if teenage coolness had kicked in to the point that she had lost interest in continuing our traditions.
I got my answer last week when Jennifer said that we needed to do something “Christmas-y.” That meant make cookies, decorate a gingerbread house, or make fudge.
So on Christmas Eve, Jennifer, Valerie, who is home from college, and I decorated cookies. Valerie approaches them less like a holiday tradition and more like an art project. And Jennifer, who is a wonderful artist in her own right, follows suit.
Decorating cookies with them always reminds how literal I am in my thinking and how imaginative they are. They definitely think outside the cookie. For example, when faced with a cookie in the shape of a gingerbread man, I decorate it like the gingerbread men illustrated in books or represented in the Nutcracker. White zig-zagged frosting and if I’m feeling really creative, the little guy gets pants and suspenders.
However, Jennifer and Valerie are able take a cookie that’s barely even recognizable as a “man” shape and turn it into a wizard, Lady Gaga, a Bollywood dancer, lumberjack and Katy Perry. Then they each take pictures of their cookies, and post them on their FaceBook pages and compete over who receives the most “Likes” on them.
The couple of hours that we spent decorating cookies is one of the highlights of this Christmas. We spent time doing an activity together, it didn’t cost anything and I got a chance to appreciate my daughters’ sense of humor and fun.
As I go about the preparations for Christmas, I often think about what our Christmas celebration will look like when our kids are truly on their own. Will I still put up all the decorations? Probably not. Will I make and decorate cookies? I don’t think so. That makes times like this that much more precious.