Another Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It amazes me how with each year time slips away quicker and quicker. When did that happen? Not only did Christmas swiftly pass, they’ve changed. Yes granted I’ve gotten older and not everyone in the family can be here and above all yes I realize that the feeling and eagerness will never quite be like that of when I was a child and still believed. As a child there was no other excitement like that of waiting for Santa. I remember the feeling of something magical to take place overnight. Growing up the enthusiasm would really reach its peak on the way home from church when mom or dad, one of my aunts or uncles, or whoever I might be riding with at the time would exclaim ‘think I just saw a red light in the sky, better hurry home to bed, must have been Santa with Rudolph leading the way.’ In my mind we couldn’t get home fast enough. So many things to do before bed and a long sleepless night.
The family; mom, dad, my three brothers and myself would FINALLY get home, change into pajamas sit around the Christmas tree with our hot chocolate or eggnog and settle in for dad to read “The Night Before Christmas”. A family tradition to this day even if not everyone can always be home together to celebrate. Dad would read the story and we would then lay out cookies, eggnog or milk and our letters to Santa and run off to bed with instructions not too peak or come out of our rooms until morning.
Not sure I ever slept on those nights, I remember wanting nothing more than to just fall asleep already and wake to find if Santa had really come. Well at some point I must have fallen asleep because I’d awake and it was morning, sort of, it was usually about five in the morning and even though all of us kids were up we knew mom and dad couldn’t be woken quite yet. My brothers and I would gather in one of our bedrooms and wait, but not very patiently, until about six. One by one, in that hour, we’d all have to “use” the bathroom at some point, but we all knew it was to take a glimpse into the living room and look to see if our stockings were full because if they were, we knew, Santa had come. When done in the bathroom we’d run back into the room in a fit of giggles and excitement to proclaim, ‘Santa has come he really has’! After little sleep and one loooonnngggg hour of waiting to finally go to the living room, my oldest brother would allow us to go and sit with the Christmas lights on around the tree in hopes to wake mom and dad up. How could they sleep? Santa had visited, he’d eaten all the cookies the drink was gone and OH MY GOODNESS he wrote us a letter, a real note from the good old Saint Nicholas himself. Looking at it now I don’t know how I didn’t burst from excitement.
Mom and dad would get up not long after and the agonizing wait for my father began. Every little excuse he could find to prolong the opening of stockings and gifts he did. He’d have to read the paper, make his coffee, drink the first glass to the last drop then tease us with the idea of making a big breakfast and eating before we did anything. Oh, my dad was
amused with himself and would laugh at our clear impatience with him, but it amused him none-the-less. An amusement that I can appreciate now, it was a way to make the magic last just a bit more and keep the family together that much longer. When I was younger perhaps we didn’t always have the most but what we did have meant everything and I wouldn’t trade anything for those memories and at times I wish I could get that feeling of excitement back. Yes, things have changed and I know the truth now of Santa and fully realize that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth but I love this time of year just as much as I did back then, if not more now.
It’s a time of family gathering, sharing stories of the past and being together. The magic of Christmas remains even if it’s a little different. As I type this at my parents, my home I grew up in, I think how often I don’t get back here and wish it was more. It’s a place I know I can always return no matter what, no questions asked, it’s a place of love and a place of memories a plenty. As I look down at the ironic ruby-red slippers, given to me by mom, the thought is not lost on me…there is no place like home.