‘Tis the season. It’s Christmas Eve eve.

The kids are preparing for a long winter’s break by passing out presents to teachers and friends. They are tidying up desks and performing seasonally appropriate holiday programs for parents and teachers on this, their last day of school before frozen freedom.

I think some in the faith community get all bent out of shape about public school performances that are secular, but I’ve come to peace with it. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy all of the holiday hoopla that the elementary, middle school and high schools can throw at me. Yes, Christmas should celebrate Jesus’ birth. Yes, Christmas has instead become a consumer-centric holiday. But, the secular message of Christmas also embraces peace, thankfulness, joy and love. I think we can all agree those are pretty good things, too.

At this time of year, more donations are given to non-profit agencies than at any other time of the year. Holiday light displays are manned by volunteers and collect cans of food instead of money as the price of admission. Co-workers organize potlucks and college students return to the nest. Scrooge is scourged and we all watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life. Our houses smell like evergreen trees via real or otherwise manufactured means. We bake.

I trekked through the snow to my 3rd grade daughter’s reader’s theater version of The Grinch.
Reader’s theater = reading from a script, not memorizing lines.

20141223_100234 (800x450)

While waiting in the hallway with the other smattering of parents and grandparents, I perused the wall above the hanging coats and backpacks. There, arranged in a perfect line, affixed to the brick wall was a collection of special Christmas wishes.

Eight and 9-year old kids are pretty funny and materialistic. I expected to find crazy specific requests for toys electronics and money.

I found none of that.

As the parents and grandparents read their child’s “wish” paper, it got really quiet in the hallway. These kids asked not for themselves, but for others. One girl made an eloquent plea for her aunt to be given an airplane ticket to visit their home this year. As the mom called the aunt (her sister) and read aloud the wish, I can only imagine how that made her day soar. One girl who struggles mightily with reading and writing, voiced a simple wish for her friend to recover from “canser, becus he wil dy sooon.”  One boy wished for his grandpa’s clothes to have less rips and holes in them. Another boy wrote a combined wish and promise to help his mom more at home because she gets really overwhelmed. Another boy wished for his dog to be nicer because he bites him and it makes him sad.

Among the wishes was one clear theme: parents need more help and less stress.

An overwhelming number of the children’s wishes centered on mom getting more time and more help. Many wished mom didn’t have to work and some wished mom could work less. I wish my mom wasn’t so busy. I wish my mom had more time to do fun things. I wish my mom could buy pretty clothes because she wears a uniform to work. 

And my personal favorite.

If I could grant one wish it would be for my mom. The wish would be that my mom would not have to work so much because then she won’t have to get SO stressed out. She would have more time to do what she loves like bakeing [sp] for the holidays. 

20141223_095331 (567x800)

It’s my favorite because it’s my daughter’s special wish.

I was dumbfounded. I hate to bake and love my work. 

One grandparent saw me wince and consoled me with, “Oh, these were written weeks ago.” Weeks ago. Finals week. Stress is a given. I wonder how that translated at home? I didn’t fee SO stressed out during finals. I had things pretty well under control, or so I thought. Yes, I tend to get short and snippy when under a work deadline.  Yes, I could easily dissolve into a puddle of guilt over this public display of mom’s losing it, people.

But I won’t because it’s Christmas. Instead of seeing what’s wrong with this picture, I choose to see the blessing.

All of the wishes were sentiments of love and well being.

Just when we thought we were invisible to our children, they remind us we are ever present in their lives. This reminds us that we don’t live in an adult bubble, and that’s ok. They see our struggle and sacrifice, in small bursts. They want us to be happy and healthy, stable and secure. They want us to look and feel nice. They want the best of us, as we do for them.

We get so busy giving them a good Christmas that we forget the best Christmases center on love and laughter, joy and Jesus. Making the perfect dinner or buying the perfect gift or making sure the house is spotless for Aunt Mildred are unimportant to our kids. Take a cue from these brilliant 9-year old kids. We can impact the entire world in our own house. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale.

Grant your kid’s wish for you this Christmas. Work less, enjoy more.