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Christmas Day

One of the greatest satisfactions of Christmas morning growing up was gathering all my opened presents into a big loot pile I’d just sit back and survey. Surrounded by wrapping paper shreds and a sea of shag carpet was my heap of treasures–the Cabbage Patch doll, the new legwarmers, the Kissing Coolers and Bonne Bell chapsticks all pushed into a pile that was mine. Before I even played with any of it, there was that moment amid the mess of Christmas morning that the simple sight of those gifts, arranged in a pile together, made me feel so lucky and loved and full.

Thirty years later, I sit on the floor of my living room next to a fire, second cup of coffee in hand. The sun has just barely risen, but the house is fully awake. Three piles of treasures begin to form amid scraps of wrapping paper, and I watch as my children gush over new Barbies and Legos and more glue to make slime. I slowly survey the living room and take in every bit of the scene–the way Brett gently calls “Hey Buddy” to Dash to distract him from opening his sisters’ presents, the chipped nail polish on Nella’s little fingernails as she carefully peels back the paper on her gifts, the ribbon Lainey tucked around her neck like a scarf, the dog asleep on the couch, my dad and Gary excitedly making over every little thing Dash holds up to show them, the music, the warmth, our home.

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This is my pile of gifts, this is my Christmas treasure, and though the greatest excitement of this morning is associated with childhood, nothing can compare with how lucky and loved and full I feel at this moment.

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Yes, the living room’s a mess, and yes this recognition of gifts comes with the pain that life is so very fragile and this scene will change every year, but for a moment, everything I love is pushed together into a pile in my mind, and I sit back and survey it and whisper a million thank-yous before I get up to refill my cup, grab a garbage bag, take a picture, wipe a nose, pull the sticky buns out of the oven. This...this is my favorite thing about Christmas.

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Looking back, a few scenes from our Christmas:

Making Florida snowmen Christmas Eve from frozen corn starch, shaving cream and peppermint oil.

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Our Christmas cake that Dash slowly devoured little by little every chance he had to sneak away and help himself.

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Baby of the family motto: Just give it to him.

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Christmas Eve bar with our signature drink “The Rudolph”: 1.5 oz Bourbon, 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz. rosemary simple syrup, shaken and poured on ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig (and a cranberry Rudolph nose, suggested by Instagram followers who were clever to tie in that title).

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Dash wanted to address his own presents, and in true baby-of-the-family fashion, he wowed us with how many letters he can write on his own. My favorite for all my kids has always been their first capital “E” with, like, 19 lines coming out of it.

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Crossing off some of the last things on our Holiday Bucket List (taking it down, dating it and tucking it away in our keepsake drawer today)…

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Setting up our reindeer runway and sprinkling some treats for Santa’s reindeer…

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Milk & Cookies for Santa…

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Watching The Family Stone Christmas Eve, my favorite…

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Santa’s gifts waiting…

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Christmas Morning.

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The girls wanted “real baby” dolls, and Santa delivered. They played with them all day Christmas day and requested we pull out the old baby car seat from the attic.

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(Santa purchased this doll for the girls, for those who asked).

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(Palm Springs Playhouse from Land of Nod.)

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Lainey does not gush emotionally, so it meant a whole lot when she looked at me and said, “I can’t even tell you how happy I am this Christmas.”

My Christmas spirit may be a festive little elf for the month of December, but every year on Christmas Day, it goes into this deeply reflective place that–this year–had me crying in the bathroom. I feel too much–this is my burden to bear, and it does come with bonuses, so don’t feel too bad. “I don’t even know why I’m crying,” I told Brett. My sister recently likened this feeling to therapy dogs–a friend who had one said that on therapy days, the dog gets more exhausted than when he runs at the park. On therapy days, the dog soaks up the emotions of all those he’s around and loving, and that’s a lot to bear. Even when I tell myself “low standards” and “just chill” for Christmas day, I can’t help but feel so aware of how much I love the people I’m with and everything everyone is feeling–even if it’s all good–that I just go into therapy dog mode and soak up too many feelings and then fall into an exhausted heap Christmas night.

Loving people is so hard and so wonderful. And as much as I love Christmas, there’s a reason it only comes once a year.

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Taking this heap of gifts into the week as we continue to soak up family, feel grateful for everything this year has given us and move forward toward the new year…onward, my friends.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday…wishing you more love into the new year. xo

Leaving you with my post on Instagram from Christmas night: Lying in bed with the girls as they fell asleep tonight, I heard the ghost of Christmas past…quiet little sobs: “I don’t want to go to bed, Mom, because when we wake up, it will all be over.” My mom reminded me today that I was exactly the same (and maybe still am 😊)–cried every Christmas night growing up, so sad for the end of the anticipation. So I held Lainey’s hand and told her about the words that have become my anthem…There Is More. We are the keepers of the secret power of recognizing and creating celebrations among ordinary days, and that power lasts all year. Everything we love about this season is scattered throughout the rest of the year too–opportunities for gathering, music, giving and gratitude. How many sunsets will take our breath away this next year? How many nights will we fall asleep, feeling warm and full and loved? How many adventures await us? “There’s so much to look forward to,” I told her. “Let’s start tomorrow with a walk on the beach.” ❤️ Merry Christmas…there is more.

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Leave a Comment
  1. mary greitzer says:

    beautiful post! happy holidays!

    “love is the work for which all other work is merely preparation” – rilke

  2. I definitely am close to tears on Christmas Day (and nice dose of PMS didn’t help either!) because I am so sad that it over – by 11:00 am (at age 8 and 11, they allowed us to all sleep in until 8:00) everything had been unwrapped. The tween had retreated to her room with all her loot. We watch ‘A’ Christmas Story’ on Christmas Day, but after that, the lights don’t look the same, the music doesn’t sound the same. The only thing that really last is still taking in big whiffs of the tree – the smell remains as magical the entire season.

    And then I find myself twitchy and wondering how quickly I can take it all down, since, like I said, once Christmas is over, it doesn’t have the same effect and I want my house back. How did my mother last until New Year’s Day???! I want to wake up on January 1st without a pine needle in sight!

    Christmas Eve truly is the best day. That is what I look forward to. Christmas Day is the end.

  3. I love following you..everywhere.

  4. Thank you for sharing your Christmas! The baby dolls and their mamas are priceless.
    And thank you for putting words to what I always feel on Christmas day- the joy and the sadness and the gratefulness all bundled together.
    Best wishes for the New Year.

  5. Every year at Christmas Eve mass, all I want to do is sing along to Away in the Manger, but each year I’m focusing so hard on not crying my eyes out…..I’m right there with you on feeling all the feels :)

  6. Thank you for this post. For letting me know I’m not the only one crying because it’s all so magical, and all over too soon.
    But mostly thanks for the reminder that there is more. More Christmases to come, more stages of parenting to enjoy, and more good things headed our way.

  7. Beautiful. All of it :-)

  8. Margie McLaughlin says:

    Kelle, thank you so much for allowing us to share your beautiful day, and for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. Your photos and words are magic and poetry and both resonate deeply within me. Wishing you and your loved ones deep reservoirs of creativity, calm, and compassion in this next year. I have been following your blog since its inception and continue to feel such gratitude for the love you share with us all!

  9. Yes! I love this post so much – but especially that first paragraph! You so perfectly put into words exactly what I love so much about Christmas; and I too was (maybe sometimes still am) one of those people that cry when Christmas is over!

  10. Joanna Downey says:

    My grandmother’s favourite & most-used saying was ‘the magic of ordinary days’. I love Christmas; the anticipation, the magic, the colours & all the memories from past holidays & I too get that awful feeling when it’s over. It’s then that I use Alice’s saying & enjoy the ordinary days, I have a happiness jar on our kitchen windowsill & my aim is to put three notes into it every day that describe something good that has happened, I don’t always find three but hey ho. On New Years Eve I empty out the notes, put them in date order & remind myself of all the wonderful happenings. Happy New Year.

  11. Perfect as always… I love the pics and the words you always making the best…😍

  12. Barbara Wagenaar says:

    Speaking of celebrations of ordinary wonders such as sunsets –are you familiar with the beautiful children’s book by Byrd Baylor–I’m in Charge of Celebrations, and another wonderful book of hers–The Table Where Rich People Sit? All of her books are not-to-be-missed, but these two are special favorites of mine.
    Thanks for another beautiful message, and Happy New Year!

  13. What a magical blessed day for you all.

    Love Dash and the cake. HA!!! 😀

  14. Shannon Brown says:

    Your post made me cry!! I know exactly what you mean. Happy New Year!

  15. I couldn’t love this more. Oh boy, can I relate to the highs and lows of being born an empathetic soul. I love the book, “If You Feel Too Much.” Have you read it? This post was so beautiful, it made me cry.

  16. Love the last photo soooooo much ! Thanks for always sharing. ❤️ 🎅🏼🤶🏻🌲

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