Heidi is all girl. She loves going in my closet to try on my belts and shoes. She uses whatever remotely looks like a comb to brush her hair. She is always “fixing” my hair (this actually involves her completely messing it up, and then very carefully, she’ll try and smooth it all back into place). She pretends that sticks are makeup brushes and a rock is her compact, and she will sit in the dirt and very daintily apply her pretend makeup. We have screaming contests sometimes, just for fun. She has tea parties in her tent. And she always flashes a huge smile in the mirror when I fix her hair and then let her see it to make sure she approves. She nearly always does.
While it’s the most amazing thing to watch my baby turn into a little girl, it’s also made me very aware of something else. She watches me…very closely. Every move I make, every word I say, every attitude I exude, she picks up. As sweet as it is when she plays with makeup and dress-up clothes, it’s just as startling to see her throw something out of anger. Once this realization hit, I thought back to ways I have acted in front of her with a bit of an “oooopsies” muttered under my breath. This has caused me to tred more carefully throughout my day. I started to bite my lip, sit on my hands, and simply walk away so I could react in another room before I come back and deal with the situation at hand. I didn’t want her seeing or repeating me on those days where I couldn’t keep myself in check.
This seems a particularly fitting season to reflect on my priorities and what I am teaching my daughter by my lifestyle. While she may not be old enough to understand the concepts of Advent or Santa Claus, she is old enough to understand the concept of “stressed” and “busy” and “me first.” If I am running from point A to B to C, cussing under my breath at crazy drivers and huffing impatiently in the checkout line, she sees. If I’m resentfully spending time buying and wrapping and freaking out over Christmas gifts, she sees. If I am spending all my time feeding into the hype, and spending zero time reading to her about Jesus or teaching her how to give, she sees.
but the rhythm of our words and actions gets implanted in their hearts. I don’t think their chubby little hands and their great big hearts are incapable of learning about love. Aren’t they the ones that teach us love in the first place? Wasn’t it Heidi that taught me giving up myself to bring happiness to someone else is where real life is found, that to put others first brings the greatest joy? Isn’t she the one that has been showing me for over a year what life is truly about?
While I am not opposed to Christmas gifting or some of the bustle of the season, I would love it if Heidi grew up sensing that this is also a sacred season. I want her to know the story of Jesus’ birth, to understand the quietness and importance of lighting a candle in the dark, to know the joy of giving over the joy of receiving.
Let’s be honest. I want that for myself too.
“Maybe that’s always the only choice we have to make every Christmas: feed our own fickle wishes or feed the real hunger of Christ?Nothing can be claimed, taken, received, had; everything we have is gift to us from heaven. All that we have has no other source but the hand of God. (Jn 3:27).” -Ann Voskamp