I’m not a fan of Christmas parties.  Or exchanging presents.  What can I say?  I’m an introvert and the thought of plastering a smile on my face and forcing my way through small talk (which I also hate) is brutal.  Making sure I give a socially acceptable response to a present I open is even worse.  Even if I love the gift, I’m not naturally emotionally expressive so it becomes hard work.

I prefer the silent side of Christmas: fresh baked cookies with my little family on a cold, still night, candlelit Christmas Eve services and the look in my daughter’s eyes as we put up the tree.  Though not her first Christmas, this is the first one she can put into words.  She repeatedly called the tree “mys” (mine) and successfully made a good bit of noise on a tiny french horn ornament.  She chattered endlessly about the different kinds of ornaments and the light up snowman.  I have a feeling she’ll like parties more than me.

But despite our personality differences I’ve noticed we both gravitate toward the underside of the Christmas tree.  A’s first Christmas we put her under the tree and she laid there mesmerized by the lights.  Last Christmas she crawled under to grab at the lower ornaments that looked like fun.  This year, she helped her daddy hang the ornaments from under the tree, laying beside him contentedly for an entire second after a job well done.

As a child, I used to hide under the tree to get away from the chaos, to avoid going to bed or to eavesdrop on adult conversation.  As an adult, I make it a point to climb under the tree at least once a Christmas season and revel in the solitude.  One year, my husband brought me to a very large Christmas tree in the middle of the city and we ducked under it and listened as the world passed us by, safe and secure in our hiding place.

That’s what I want for our daughter at Christmas and all year: to be a hiding place for her.  If she’s so inclined I hope she has a blast at Christmas parties, Christmas shopping and even opening presents.  But I want her to know I will be her safe and secure hiding place the best I can.  And when I can’t, I’ll always scoot over and make room for her under the tree.