“Merry Christmas, Holly,” Andrew cooed to his daughter as she opened her sleepy morning eyes. Holly, of course, had no idea what day it was or why Andrew was saying those words to her. But I knew, and as the three of us cuddled up in bed on December 25th, I felt my heart overflowing in my chest.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I’ve been known to put up the tree as early in November as possible, play the holiday radio station 24/7, and cram all of my favorite movies into the month of December. When I first started dating Andrew, I was delighted to find out that he had a miniature Christmas tree at his West Loop condo — decorated with tasteful white lights, thank the Lord!
Andrew and I have spent five Christmases together, each one wonderful in its own way. In 2016, we were boyfriend and girlfriend. In 2017, we were talking about engagement. In 2018, we were newlyweds. In 2019, we were praying for a baby.
But this year, our fifth, was the very best one on record… Holly’s first Christmas! We packed up our car for a weekend in the suburbs with my family. I want to remember it all:
Watching “The Holiday” — one of our most-loved movies — and having drinks with my parents on Christmas Eve Eve.
Portillo’s red-and-white striped bags all over the kitchen island. My brothers came running!
Holly’s first Christmas gift: a gorgeous red velvet jumper with floral socks to go with it. I had one just like it when I was a baby.
Waking up six in the morning on Christmas Eve to a quiet house. Andrew and I took Holly downstairs so we could drink coffee by the glittering tree.
Turning on “White Christmas” and singing all the songs. (They’re still stuck in my head, days later.)
Driving around town with Andrew to look at our favorite houses.
The smell of dark brown sugar as my mom baked chocolate chip cookies.
Music from my childhood playing on the Sonos, like Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman.
My mom’s holiday tablescape: tall white candles, whimsical globe ornaments, and a glittery garland strewed from from end-to-end.
Cuddling with Holly in bed on Christmas Eve.
Opening gifts and giving gifts.
Our big brunch featuring bagels and lox with capers, creamy scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, and crisp hash browns.
Braving the 20-degree weather for a walk with Andrew on Christmas Day.
Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and sipping glasses of white wine with my mom. Holly fell asleep in her lap.
Christmas dinner: roasted salmon, potato pancakes, a pear salad.
Our family of three is back home now. Andrew and Holly are both sleeping as I write — him on the couch next to me, her in the den. The condo is a total disaster and I have a million things I should be doing, but for just a little while longer, I want to gaze at the Christmas tree and remember a beautiful weekend celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank you for coming to Earth so many years ago. Thank you for the best gift on this Christmas, Holly Grace. Thank you for so much time with family this year. Thank you for a challenging and emotional 2020, still brimming with hope from beginning to end.