Miles don't dim light of Christmas Queen

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been the queen of Christmas. Perhaps your family has its own Christmas queen or king? Someone whose love for the holidays is so effervescent that it brings happiness to everyone around them.

Each year well before December, my mom is already thinking about Christmas. Her unbridled joy for the holiday season has her planning new decorations, recipes and special handmade gifts. She spends months on end hand-stitching beautiful needlepoint ornaments as presents for everyone in our family. However, the ornament tradition is only one small part of the Christmas love she shares each year.

A couple of years ago on a November trip to Chicago my mom transformed our kitchen table into a mini-Christmas workshop. She had decided that it was time to share some Christmas creativity and decorating joy with her granddaughters. My mom had come prepared. She had packed an entire suitcase full of craft supplies. Over the course of a day, she taught her young granddaughters how to create their own tree full of ornaments, angels and paper chains, starting a new tradition of ornament making.

This year it was my youngest daughter, Alyssa, who wanted to make sure that the ornament party continued. Concerned that her Abuela couldn't travel to Chicago, she suggested that they set a date for a FaceTime crafting party. My mom mailed us a big box of art supplies: pinecones, ribbons, wooden beads and colored sequins. They spent a couple of hours on the phone creating ornaments together. This tradition of decorating together felt more important than ever this year, because for the first time we won't be traveling to Texas to spend Christmas with our family.

Right about the time of Abuela's annual ornament party, Alyssa came to tell me about her "big Christmas problem." I wondered what my 6-year-old could be so concerned about. Could it be Santa or a tradition we couldn't keep? She then explained she was worried that with COVID, she wouldn't be able to go to the store. Furthermore, she wasn't sure her piggy bank had enough money to cover the gifts she wanted to give. I then shared with her my mom's great Christmas wisdom. Sometimes the best presents aren't things that come from a store. It's the gifts that are made and given with great love that people treasure most. So, she colored stained-glass bookmarks with ribbon tassels to share as gifts. She also made special Christmas pictures to help decorate her grandmother's refrigerator.

As we packed Christmas boxes to mail to our family, there was a familiar twinkle of Christmas joy in my daughter's eye. One that belongs to a Christmas queen, whose holiday spirit shines so brightly that it touches everyone around them.

So, here's to the Christmas queens and kings who fill our hearts with an extra measure of holiday sparkle, light and love that even distance and a global pandemic can't dim.

- Amy McCauley of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].