This is my 21st Christmas as a mom.

A lot of them blur together, but I remember the lead up and excitement for Christmas. Setting up the Christmas tree with the girls; planning what we’re going to buy for their cousins.

I remember all the Christmas traditions we had, like reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever out loud every year, or making new Christmas decorations. And, of course, all the excitement that the 25th will finally come!

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But Christmas is different now. I’m not excited about December 25th as much as I am excited about December 21st. Now, the 21st happens to be my 25th anniversary, but that’s not why I’m excited (we’re celebrating in May with a trip, anyway). I’m excited because on the 21st, my girls and my son-in-law come home.

All I want for Christmas is to see my kids again! How Christmas changes when kids grow up.

I know many of you are still in the wonderful chaos of Christmas with little kids, but I want to give you some “words of wisdom” from the other side of parenting. When the kids grow up, Christmas will still be about them. But not in the same way.

My Ministry Director’s name is Tammy. I used to call her my assistant, but she’s so much more than that. We were good friends before she started working for me (in fact, I used to volunteer for a church ministry that she was running, so she used to be my boss!). We travel together a lot on my speaking engagements.

And last night she posted this on Facebook, about her daughter who is now 23. (I know her daughter well, too!). I love this, and I think it originally came from the DJ Rick at Country 104.3 in Boise, Idaho (it’s been blowing up all over the internet, but I think that’s where it first was):

My daughter each year asks me the same question. After thinking about it, I have decided I’d give her my real answer:

What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to bring your kids around (when you have them).

I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries, your significant others/spouses, your kids when you have them. I want you to continue sharing your life with me.

Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Y’all laugh at me all the time and I secretly love it. Hearing you laugh is music to me.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job.

Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work, I’m pretty proud of it. Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want you to spend your money making a better life for you and your families when you have them because I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy.

When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.

One day the kids won’t be as excited about presents. They may even sleep in on Christmas Day! They may arrive at your house with someone in tow that they want you to meet. They may arrive heartbroken, or exhausted, or stressed, and just need a place where they can crash and be a little kid again.

They’ll probably arrive broke.

They’ll probably arrive with personal issues they’re trying to work through, worries about the future, and things that a full stocking on Christmas morning can’t solve anymore.

But it will still be delightful.

One of the awesome pictures they took on the cruise this summer! We liked to ham it up a little.

One of the awesome pictures they took on the cruise this summer! We liked to ham it up a little.

We’ll get to have some fun together. We’ll play games together (I already bought a game that’s all wrapped up in our Christmas Eve bag that we get to open for some fun that night!). And we’ll stay up late, and sleep in late, and laugh and sip hot chocolate.

In fact, all of this makes Christmas even better than it was when they were little, because I appreciate everything now so much more.

My children are coming home. And that’s all I really want for Christmas.

Christmas Letter to an Adult Child: What I really want for Christmas

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