Sunday, December 04, 2005

Holiday Spirit

When I was a kid, both Christmas and my birthday were the two BIGGEST days of the year! My mother made sure that as many of our (sister and me) wishes came true as possible. Especially festive was December 25. She spent a lot of time decorating the house (I'll have to tell you about the evil elves someday...). Lights in every window, mistletoe, wreaths, tinsel on the tree, etc. If you were in my house at night, it glowed warmly and softly with the various candles (electric and flame). Very cozy.
Even four feet of snow didn't bother us much. Although we had to shovel the driveway, it usually meant a day off from school and sledding in the back woods. We couldn't WAIT until Christmas morning!
My sister and I tried almost every year to go to bed early so that the morning would seem to come extra-fast. My parents wised up, though. They made Christmas eve our delivery day. We loaded presents in the car and visited all the relatives to drop off their gifts. (And pick some up!) We'd be pretty tired by the time we finally got home. No more Christmas mornings that started at 4:00 AM!
The rule of the house was that NOBODY was allowed into the living room (where Santa had presumably visited while we slept) until after breakfast. We weren't even allowed to peek. Every year my parents would sit and try to have a second cup of coffee at the table as part of their breakfast. I can't imagine a worse torture for a kid.
After enough snotty whining from us kids, my parents would allow that breakfast was over. My father got to enter the living room first to turn on the tree lights. Then the parade! We filed in and were always almost speechless at the sight of so many gifts. "Santa" had a way with artfully stacking boxes under the tree to make it look like hundreds of gifts.
As much as we would have liked to tear into the presents like sharks at a feeding frenzy, we were only allowed to go one person at a time. This was excruciating, but also nice as it made the wonderful morning last longer.
In 1999 my mother died of cancer (lymphoma). She took Christmas and birthdays with her. My sister does her best at holding it together for her family. She tries to make it as wondrous for her children as our mother did for us. Deep down, though, I know it isn't really Christmas for her without our mother. It's a show she puts on for her kids.
As it turns out, this will be the first year her oldest experiences the holiday knowing who Santa really is. She was devastated at learning the truth and decided she wanted nothing more to do with the day ever again. THAT won't last. The magic of seeing the decorations, the music (inescapable isn't it?), the TV shows, the shopping, the crowds, the presents... She'll come around to appreciating it again. Not quite the same, but it's still there for her.
We don't have kids, so it's been over five years since we've made any real effort to get into the holiday spirit. Maybe this year will be different.
Miss you mom.

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