Leading up to Christmas, it didn’t really feel like…Christmas.
The Christmas tree went up and our stockings were hung with care, but something was missing. Christmas cards started arriving and people in our neighborhood did their best impression of Clark Griswold with their Christmas lights…still nothing.
Even after I wrapped a couple of gifts, the holiday spirit just wasn’t there.
I thought about all the “kids” taking a group photo before we all hustle down the stairs to see what Santa brought us (right). I also thought about the amazing breakfasts Mom makes after we open gifts.
I ranked each tradition in an unofficial Top 10 list and shared it on Facebook and Twitter. The Christmas spirit was coming alive before my eyes.
When I started thinking about our tradition of making homemade Christmas gifts – No. 1 on my list – I was dancing around, wearing nothing more than an elf hat and Frosty boxers. (Not really…but you get my point. I was officially ready for the holidays.)
This tradition – which we started 11 years ago – makes our family Christmas extraordinary.
The week leading up to this Christmas, I thought about all the great things we’ve created, how many tears we’ve generated, and how we continue to stretch our creativity.
I started to get excited to see what everyone made this year.
Like usual…the gifts were AWESOME!
DAD: Hand-crafted YoYos – he always creates something light and fun.
SUSAN (my younger sister): Personalized stationery
JAKE (my 18-month-old nephew): Christmas ornament with framed picture of him and the family dog, Maverick.
MICHAEL (my brother-in-law): I was the only person who received a legitimate homemade gift from Mike. He took a family cedar chest and turned it into an amazing toy box for Baby Crash. He used Texas Ranger baseball cards – new and old – to cover the top of the chest.
MARY GRACE (my four-year-old niece): Hand-painted flower pots with planted herbs
MOM: Customized frames – she used some of my great aunt’s linen to make a unique and meaningful keepsake.
KoKo (sister-in-law): Made delicious chili and gumbo – complete with Fritos and rice for the fixin’.
My wife and I joined forces this year. The first time in 11 years that I’ve done this. I had to, though. This year’s gift was WAY outside my comfort zone – specifically since it involved power tools.
Special shout out to a couple elves: Greg (for helping dig the holes) and Chris (for donating most of the bottles.)
We wrapped one bottle for each person and put it under the tree. When they placed their bottle on the tree, they said one thing they were grateful for. Mary Grace said, “Love.” Most people said, “Family.” My brother-in-law said, “Dirk.” (Yes…as in Nowitzki)
I didn’t hang a “gratitude bottle” on a tree, but as I made this year’s gift – sawing, drilling, pouring cement – I constantly said a prayer and expressed my gratitude for this tradition. I’m firmly convinced that 11 years ago that God whispered to my mom and gave her this crazy idea.
Christmas morning has never been the same.
Hopefully it never will.