“My 8-year-old son, Lucas, trips and spills half of his hot chocolate. We ask a neighbor to snap a family pic. My eyes are closed, my son is looking at the hot chocolate on his pants; only my 9-year-old daughter, Addison, is smiling as the flash goes off. We’re freezing…it’s a colder night than we’re used to in Southern California, yet we’re all still smiling. There’s no whining. No one complains. We just smile and continue on our way without the perfect picture….ready to make a perfect memory. ‘Mommy, I can’t wait to deliver our gift,’ Addison says. This is our tradition.
For the last five years, we’ve taken a walk around our neighborhood. We get all bundled up, and pour hot chocolate into our Christmas-themed mugs and off we go. We take our time, admiring each house. ‘Oooooh! Look at that one! I love Snoopy,’ Lucas exclaims as he points toward a giant inflatable Snoopy wearing a Santa hat flying a plane. ‘Oh, I like it,’ Addison says, ‘but let’s keep walking…I see flashing lights over there!’ We discuss what we like about each yard – whether it’s the lights, the colors or the theme. This is our tradition.
It’s a night we look forward to all year long because it is one of the few nights of the year we’re not rushing to do anything. As a full-time working mother of two kids with busy schedules of their own, most nights we’re just trying to survive. We rush from here to there and there to here…next thing you know it’s bedtime…and then poof: it’s the next day and we do it all again!
But not on this night. Addison hands me her empty mug and says, ‘I love you, Mama.’ The words bring a smile to my face and the simplicity of the evening brings tears to my eyes. Our little tradition of walking through the neighborhood soaking up the Christmas spirit comes with a little twist: a thank you note. Once we’ve admired all of the lights, we decide as a family which house we like the best. Sometimes there will be a home so beautiful it stops us in our tracks…and we know it’s our favorite. Other times we have to walk back and forth between a few homes as we narrow down the options – and when we do…that’s when the real fun begins. We all smile, giggle and tip toe toward the ‘winning house,’ so to speak… we’ve elected my Lucas as the Doorbell Ringer, because he’s so quick on his feet. I hang in the shadows, proudly watching as my little elves make their special delivery. Addison gently sets a gift bag on the porch and slowly starts to back away, that’s Lucas’ clue to ring the doorbell – and they both spring into the night! Sometimes we’re still close enough to see the homeowner open the door, but most years we’re probably halfway home when they open the door…and we never see their faces. This is our tradition.
The gift inside the gift bag varies from year to year – we’ve delivered keepsake ornaments, beautiful scented candles or hot cocoa sets with s’mores. But, the note… the note is always the same. We simply write, ‘Every year we walk around the neighborhood admiring the lights everyone works so hard to hang. Every year we choose our favorite…and this year it is your home. Thank you for brightening our holiday!’
This simple gesture brings our hearts so much joy and we hope it does the same for the people inside the homes of the doorbells we ring. This is our tradition.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Jacobs, ChicExecs Senior Publicist and On-Air Lifestyle Expert. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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