Preparations for Christmas are in full swing and it is bringing up memories of past Christmases. There have been a lot of them but some have stayed with me through all these years. As a child there was the excitement of anticipation, knowing that Santa would be arriving and knowing that I’d never get to sleep and then, suddenly it would be Christmas morning.
There were pageants at our little church where I would get to be a shepherd wearing an old bed sheet costume. I’d always hoped to be the angel but someone more angelic than I always got the part. Santa would arrive with gifts for every child, how did he even know that I’d be there? On Christmas morning we opened our gifts and had a special breakfast. Later in the day my family would join aunts, uncles, and cousins at our grandparents for a quiet meal. There was never a tree at their house and festivities were subdued. Gifts were practical and usually included handknit mittens from Aunt Ruth. A gift not properly appreciated.
When my our own children were small there were no grandparents or aunts and uncles nearby. We started our own rituals. Christmas Eve we went to an early service at our Unitarian church and then came home to sit by the fire, have eggnog and cookies and admire our tree.
I tried to do my shopping early and would hide the children’s gifts at our elderly neighbor’s house. After the children were sleeping we’d retrieve them, wrap or assemble as needed and then fall asleep in the wee hours only to be roused early by five excited faces. Santa had left filled stockings on their beds but no one was allowed downstairs until everyone was up and ready to descend.
Family Christmas Eve celebrations have continued through the years as our children became adults and added grandchildren to the family. Different members of the family have hosted our evening. This year, for the first time in many years, everyone will come to me. My grandson Hunton helped with the tree and dinner preparation is underway.
Many years ago we stopped exchanging gifts with everyone in the family (it’s a big family) and instead started a Yankee Swap with originality highly prized. One year the hot gift was a bag of potatoes that ten year old Hunton had grown in his garden.
As I started to write this I discovered that I could write pages and pages about past Christmases. An exercise that perhaps I will do one day but for now, I’m wishing happy Christmas 2014 to all.