I had a ball last December...and the December before that too.
Not because it's my boy child's birthday although that part is always fun.
Not because it's hat & scarf weather although I adore busting those fuzzy bits of love out of their summer hiding places.
Not because of trees or lights or ornaments or any of the holiday trappings although those things contain their own magic.
It's because of a little girl named Laura who two years ago helped me stop hating December. She introduced me to the idea of doing for others...spending the 25 days leading up to Christmas making a difference...even a small difference...every day.
It turned out that the difference I was making was in me. That finding out the season could be about crossing lines, breaking boundaries and learning that most people out there cherish connections more than just about anything else. That December could be guilt-free...not about obligations or facades or pretending to believe in all the confusion and contradiction that made my head spin every year. That being a parent didn't have to mean I had to continue traditions that made no sense to me just to give my kids normalcy. This felt so much more REAL to me...a tradition that I could be proud to introduce my family to. A tradition about giving back and acknowledging the blessings we forget about on a day-to-day basis. Our true Thanksgiving now starts on December 1st.
I don't know what little Laura is doing these days, but I know that her influence on this grown-up continues and her legacy grows with each moment, each person, each act and each smile...that's a mighty big change she's made...and a legacy to be proud of.
December is only days away...and instead of dreading it, I'm waiting with the same excitement I used to get waiting for Santa...what a lovely difference.