To My Fellow Magic Makers, Savor Everything.

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I'm hosting Christmas. I'm excited, anxious, overwhelmed, and tired. I have a lengthy list of last minute errands, a pile of laundry that's dreadfully tall, wrapping, cooking, and baking to contend with, and some last minute finals to grade. In between it all, two tiny humans rightfully demand my attention. For some, it might be easy to complain. While fun, this time of year is overwhelmingly full.  But despite the many duties, I'm blessed by the busy bounty of my world.

In late October my grandpa passed away. A week later, his beloved wife, my grandma, joined him. Their love was the kind of thing that made its mark on everyone and everything. Nicholas Sparks might write a good love story, but I lived and walked in the presence of an exceptional treasure. For 69 years they poured themselves into one another, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They did so selflessly, kindly, and without expectation or material desires. And while I was so sad to lose them and their earthly company, I deeply believe their love is my daily dose of motivation to be better, do more, and love deeper within my familial circle.

As a child, I remember my grandpa helping me make a book of Christmas stories for my mother. I typed slowly but passionately on his computer as he oversaw my work. There were many edits and revisions, which he patiently sat through. When I finished writing he took me to Kinkos so I could have the book bound. He knew the book would be treasured by my mother in the years to come, so he made the time to help facilitate the project. He was a magic maker. My grandma loved to give. Her generosity knew no limits and she excessively spoiled her grandchildren like it was a sport, which I am sure if an Olympic competition, would earn her the gold.  One Christmas I desperately wanted an artist table like the one my Aunt Patricia had in her home. I had already made out my list when I added this item, and my mother carefully reminded me that we don't always get what we ask for at Christmas. Severely disappointed, I hoped Santa heard my late hour request. That artist's table wasn't under the tree, but it did appear at my grandma's Christmas celebration. She was a magic maker too.

It wasn't just what they helped me make or gave me at the holiday, it was the little details of every Christmas celebration. The treats, the decorations, the meals, the ever-present relish tray that my grandma insisted upon, or the general joy that permeated throughout their household. All of the stuff that as a kid you love and cherish but don't question or consider how it happens.

My parents are magic makers too. My mother excels at the art of making people feel loved, valued, and important, especially at Christmas. She makes the holiday special with little touches, tons of traditions, and a constant loop of carols. My father is one of the most fun and thoughtful gift givers I know. His smile and loud laugh are contagious components to my Christmas morning experience. It's no wonder that my siblings and I inherited their love of the season. Each of us finds a way to make our magic memorable and meaningful for our own families.

And while we're scattered throughout the country and apart from this Christmas, I like to think that because of their magic abilities, I'm equipped and empowered to make this year's celebration one to remember.

Listen, it's chaotic hosting holidays or wrapping piles of presents purchased for family. The post office is crowded. The supermarket is a zoo. Lines are long. Company coming means the house needs to be cleaned and that a endless pile of dishes is coming to a sink near you. Then there's traffic.

But to my fellow magic makers, I say this, savor it all. I'm happy for a warm, loud, full, and festive house. I'm thrilled by opportunities to give to people who mean so much to me. I'm thankful for the chance to eat a warm meal and spend time catching up with someone at the sink. Those talks by the dishwasher are some of my favorite. I'm humbled by time in the car, even in traffic, to chat with my child or belt out my rendition of Jingle Bells. I'm pleased to welcome grandparents and aunts and uncles into my home, along with cousins and extended family and friends. Because like life, the season is fleeting. It's a privilege to be a magic maker. As my grandma would say, "it's special." So with one week to go, let the magic fill you with gratitude, generosity, and hopes for more time with those we love.

Merry Christmas, Madison.

P.S. I can't wait to show my husband's family around town. Madison is something special and I'm proud to share it with them.