Christmas is such a magical time, and I love to take a few moments every year to recall Christmases past. There is no one specific moment that makes me think of that Christmas magic. Rather it is a collection of small moments that we enjoyed as a family.
As a child the excitement of Christmas is of course palpable, and it would build throughout the month of December. Every year we would weave some cedar boughs together to form an advent wreath. The first Sunday that a candle was lit would mark an escalation in excitement.
The following month would be a frenzy of activity as we would "help" Mom in the kitchen as all the holiday treats would be baked: fruit cake, mincemeat tarts, gingerbread, shortbread, sugar cookies, and the top-secret "nana-cookies". Oh, how hard it was to know that all these treats were hidden away in cupboards not to be eaten until the big day.
On one appointed night, each of us would take a turn hiding away with Mom to help her wrap gifts. It gave such a feeling of importance as we were called one by one into our parents' bedroom to help with this very important task. Adding the pointy edged bow was a hallowed task. After the tree was carefully chosen, set up, decorated these packages would be carefully stacked and then countlessly re-arranged under the tree. A little shake and shimmy to try to guess the contents, and scanning for a loose seam in the paper.
By the time that Christmas Eve rolled around their would be a fever pitch of giddiness. As we packed back into the car following Christmas Eve mass, we would be thankful that the torment was near its end. We knew that there would be only a few more hours of patient waiting. To
assure us that Santa was on his way, the car radio would be tuned to CFRB radio, where regular NORAD updates would help us track Santa's progress as he neared our home.
As my uncle would have arrived earlier that day to spend the holidays with us, my sister would have to share my room. We would cuddle together in my bed and laugh and whisper into the night, until the stern "If you don't go to sleep, Santa won't come" threat echoed up the stairs.
As the dawn broke we would wake, slowly realising that the big day was finally upon us. We would leap from bed and race around the house to be sure that everyone was awake. We would all meet in the living room where around the tree presents had magically appeared; stockings brimming with nuts and fruit and tiny gifts. We opened these first, and then after a hearty breakfast, we would open out gifts to squeals and shouts of joy.
I would have to say that of course the "Look like you love it" award has to go to Mom. Bless my father, I am not sure that he really understood how to help us choose gifts for my Mom. The frozen meat saw that he helped me choose for her one year, never made it out of the box it was packed in. But, of course, I got the biggest hug, kiss and thanks for that gift.
The day would be sent playing with our new toys, trying on Christmas sweaters and snacking on the cookies and treats that finally graced the table. It would end with a giant turkey feast and a feeling of complete satiation and weary joy.
As adults my family has tried to recreate as many of these moments as possible, and it is even more joyous as spouses, nieces and nephews are brought into the fold.
Please feel free to share your Christmas memories here, too.