There is nothing that can be compared to a young child counting off the days ’til Christmas, or the experience of celebrating Christmas with young ones. Admittedly, it all looks different now as I look back on it.
I remember as a child thinking that time moved in slow motion as Christmas approached. I was so excited I had trouble sleeping. I loved everything about that time of the year – hoping for a white Christmas, singing all my favorite songs in the choir at the church services, helping my dad choose the tree we brought home to decorate. I remember my mom carefully taking out the most treasured ornaments, telling us the story that went with each one as she hung them on the tree. We were allowed to hang the unbreakable ones. (Somehow as the days passed, the tree became more balanced looking in where the ornaments hung.) My dad was in advertising and had lots of clients. My parents were flooded with gorgeous Christmas cards from a gazillion people, plus ones from relatives we rarely saw. My mom kept the cards in a big basket on the coffee table and I spent a lot of time looking at them and reading the notes.
Our neighbors would all get together on Christmas Eve to walk around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols at each house and then trying to get the people inside to join us. By the end of the caroling, we were all happy and frozen. We walked back to our house where my mom made lots of hot chocolate while my dad made sure anyone preferring something stronger was served. We only saw these people once a year, having our separate, busy lives – but that one night a year our house danced with laughter.
We got to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and then it was off to bed, everyone pretending we would go to sleep quickly. And then it was morning and one of my dad’s stretchy socks was at the end of the bed, filled with goodies. I truly loved that part of Christmas. I couldn’t believe that Santa knew me so well, filling the sock with all kinds of little toys, chocolate bars, little tools I could use, and more.
I remember one Christmas when I got the most beautiful pullover sweater that was ever made. It was made from angora yarn and was the softest shade of pink you’ll ever see. It was softly, femininely fuzzy all over and I felt like a princess whenever I wore it.
Another Christmas my brother and I got ‘racing’ three-speed bicycles and we were never seen again….. At least until we got hungry.
And then we had the privilege of seeing Christmas through our son’s eyes – much the same, and yet all new. We so enjoyed decorating, finding presents, trying to get them wrapped and under the tree in secrecy – seeing the joy in his eyes as he opened the boxes, listening to him laugh.
Now Christmas is a bit bitter-sweet, with most of our family gone. It’ll just be my husband and me this year. I never quite caught the decorating bug this year, choosing instead to get my enjoyment from seeing my friends open the things I’ve made or bought for them, seeing the Christmas lights of others as we travel in the evenings, listening to Christmas carols on my earphones as my husband naps.
One thing won’t ever change. I still believe in Santa Claus.