We had the opportunity on Saturday to watch two of our grandchildren for about 12 hours. Our granddaughter is 4 years old, and our grandson is 2 years old. It was time to make some memories.
We made rice krispie marshmallow treats with added crushed candy canes. Then, while the 2-year-old was down for a nap, the 4-year-old was doing a Christmas craft with Granny. She made angels to take home and hang on the Christmas tree. I was reminded of a sweet childhood memory making angels with my mother, and a second memory of making angels with my children. I still have an angel or two that my mom and I made, as well as a couple of angels that my children made with me (I gave most of them to the kids for their own trees). All of these angels are pretty battered from years of wear and tear, but they return to our tree every year, and I hang them with love.
What makes these angels special? They are nothing but paper decorated in various ways—some with paint and glitter, some with crayons, some with crinkled paper. One was cut out of a Christmas card. They are not made by professional artists. They couldn’t be reproduced and sold for profit. Yet, these angels are fragile, precious, and irreplaceable. Why?
I can remember the conversation I had with my mom when we made our angels. She was excited to hang them at the very bottom of the Christmas tree so when the front door opened, the angels would sway gently at the bottom of the tree. To this day, those angels hang from the very bottom of our tree.
I also remember making angels with my children. There was a popular craft item on the market at the time. It was a spinning gadget. You placed a piece of paper on this spindle, dropped some paint on the paper, and the paint spread on the paper as the spindle began to spin. I didn’t have money to buy this little gadget, but I’m a master at improvisation. The kids had a toy kitchen. I went looking for the blender. The toy blender spun with rubber band action. We taped our angels to the top of the blender, dropped the paint on them, and gave the blender a spin. Fortunately, I had forethought to set up in the garage instead of my kitchen. It was rainy and windy, so we couldn’t do it in the backyard. Unfortunately, we ended up with paint from one end of the garage to the other—and it didn’t wash out. It had to wear off—over several years. Some of those angels still spin from the very bottom of our tree to this day.
The angels that my granddaughter made went home with her to decorate her family tree, but the ones that I made with her are hanging on the very bottom of our tree. We had a conversation about angels. We also had a conversation about her love and talent for art. I told her that her talent obviously comes from her other grandma. Grandma Beth is quite the talented art teacher, and the gene pool on that side of the family is amazing! I used the conversation for a teaching moment. I explained to our little artist that she should develop the talent that comes from her Grandma Beth. I told her that my angels aren’t very good, but that the important thing is that I had a good time making them with her.
The Christmas season brings many opportunities to spend time together making memories. It’s not about the packages under the Christmas tree. It’s about learning to share with one another, as Jesus shared with us. It’s about love, hope, charity, family, and making sweet memories. It’s about doing what the Savior would have us do. Jesus spent time with the multitudes. He never sent them away because He was tired or because He didn’t want to deal with them. He was always kind and loving. He spent the time to teach everyone He met.
Making memories with family is a way of sharing yourself with them. You are sharing yourself, your talents, and your love. It doesn’t matter whether you are making paper angels or sprinkled sugar cookies. It’s not important what the finished product looks like, or how many you make. It’s just about the time you spend together—talking, sharing, loving, and making memories.
Many years ago, my mother bought me a book called “Making Your Own Traditions: Christmas,” by Dette Hunter and Jocelyn Shipley. I love this book as much for the comments as for the helpful easy crafts and recipes. There is actually a section called “Staying Sane” and another called “Tranquil Tips.” It talks about simplifying your life. I love the following quote from the book (and actually tried it when my kids were little—and it worked!). To set this up, there is a drawing of a woman laying in a heap in front of a Christmas tree.
Is this some form of traditional worship before the Christmas tree?!? No—it’s a tension release exercise—which you don’t have to change into headband and leg-warmers to do. Simply fall to the floor—nothing will freeze a noisy group of kids into stunned silence like seeing a full-grown woman (or man!) slump to the floor. Slide your hands forward and feel the tension ease from the small of your back to the tips of your fingers. Say ah-h-h-h. Nothing does more for the atmosphere than a relaxed parent. What do you want your kids to remember? The time you spent shopping and spending, wrapping and sending, scouring and scowling, grumbling and growling—or the calm, contented, creative Christmas you spent together? Relax!
Your family doesn’t want or need anything from you but your love, your time, and your memories, so go about making some memories this Christmas.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.