Each year I celebrate Christmas, I rely less and less on the gift-giving aspect and more on the true meaning and majesty of the holiday. But as a child, I marveled at the presents tucked underneath my parents’ Christmas tree. After Thanksgiving, never before, our town hosted a lovely seasonal parade complete with marching bands, festive floats, prancing horses and a host of other lively participants. Mom or Grandma would go in search of the man selling balloons and purchase me one of the pretty helium-filled toys in the shape of a Christmas character. Bundled in boots, the wool or down-filled coat, scarf and mittens, I’d stand with my mom, dad, grandma, and aunt while watching the parade. Once Santa’s float passed, they’d take me to the place on or near the town’s square where Santa Claus held camp in his holiday house. Granted, I cried a couple years at being placed on his lap, but I always managed to convey a partial list of the toys on my wish list. Santa’s house also had a mail slot where we children could slip our letters to him and never have to worry about them getting lost in the seasonal shuffle. Of course, I’d count down the days until he was poised to make a trip down the chimney.
On Christmas Eve, usually sometime around eight in the evening, my parents would warn they heard sleigh bells in the distance and that it would be wise for me to head off to bed so he wouldn’t pass by our house. I’d enjoy a story read or told by Mom or Dad and then crawl under the covers. Sleep usually eluded me, but when the dreams came they often brought any number of happy images, and I later jotted them in my diary. Twinkling lights and tinsel on the family tree. The plates filled with various kinds of cookies Santa hadn’t sampled. Ice-cold glasses of milk for all. And you all have likely guessed I was up and about before dawn on Christmas day. I’d tiptoe into the living room and admire the stockings hanging from the mantel or dangling from the fireplace-iron stand. Somehow Mom always heard my first footsteps and appeared before I had a chance to shake any of the stockings’ contents to figure out what they contained prior to ripping off the wrapping paper. She’d carry the stockings over to the couch, turn on the Christmas tree lights and start perking the Christmas-morning coffee for Dad and herself. By this time, Dad was stirring and turning on more lights throughout the living room.
Photos from those Christmases past fill the family’s albums and make for wonderful journeys to the past on occasion. I have vivid memories of many of the presents Santa delivered, but my all-time favorite was my first bicycle. A gleaming cherry-red Schwinn with a cute basket between the handlebars and training wheels. My five-year-old heart filled with joy, and I had a hard time waiting until the sun came out to take a couple short turns around the driveway with my new bike. Then it was off to Grandma’s house for more fun, good cheer and Christmas dinner. Such was the wonderment of youth.
As snowflakes fly outside the den window, I wish you all the best and brightest for the holidays and beyond. Share with me your favorite Christmas present, whether or not it fit under the family Christmas tree.
Season’s greetings and steamy readings,
Shawna Moore http://www.grant-moore.com
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