Tucked Underneath the Christmas Tree

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
ROUGHRIDER – Ellora’s Cave
HELLE IN HEELS – Ellora’s Cave


Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

Thanks for the special Christmas memories, Shawna! When we lived in Florida, it just didn't feel like Christmas...shopping in the heat in Orlando for presents! We had a silver tree and the light that cast a rainbow of colors on the tree---couldn't put real lights on it. And the fake fire burning in the fireplace. Why we had a fireplace, I'll never know. I always felt Christmas there was surreal! :) But it was still special in its own way.

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Terry!

Thanks for sharing your Christmases past :) Mom and Dad had one of those silver trees you mentioned, along with the light wheel. There are pictures of those Christmas years in the album :) I appreciate your rekindling that fond childhood memory :)

Decorating the tree is always fun. Over the years I've collected ornaments, each holding a special meaning :)

May you rejoice in the splendor of the holidays!

Wishing you and yours happiness and good health for the holidays and beyond,


Elen Grey said...

Hey Shawna,

What a lovely post. I'm always filled with such joy and hope and thoughts of new beginnings at Christmas, more so than New Year. A fond childhood memory is being allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Of course, it wasn't a Santa gift, but it was thrilling just the same. A favorite gift was given to me by my daughter. It's a little statue called Cerebella "Smarty" Faerienoggin - a young girl sitting on a book holding a slim volume of "Great Ideas" and wearing a lightbulb in her hair ribbon.

Much cheer.

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Elen!

What a lovely present from your daughter! I'm picturing the statue as I'm typing. Those types of gifts live long in our hearts :)

For years, hubby and I have carried on a tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve :) Lots of fun and always sparks lively conversation :)

Here's wishing you and yours all the best for the holidays and beyond,


Nicole North said...

What beautiful, emotional Christmas memories, Shawna! Thanks for sharing!!

Carol Ericson said...

Hi Shawna, sounds like you had very traditional, storybook Christmases when you were young. Can't exactly say mine were traditional or storybook! I honestly don't remember even one present my parents got me, but I do remember lots of food, lots of Christmas music, and wild and raucous Parcheesi tournaments I also remember one year I put on a Christmas pageant for my family. I sang, played the flute, and read "Twas the Night Before Christmas." I made my family pay a dollar or something for the performance, and one of my sisters refused to pay because she didn't want to go anyway. But my dad paid for her and made her go. LOL Thanks for sharing your memories.

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Nicole!

It's a pleasure sharing those memories of Christmases past with you all :) Here's to more of the same memories resulting from Christmases yet to come! :)


ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Carol!

Love the memories you shared! How fun :) I would have loved attending your concert :) And to think you brought merriment and made a profit that day LOL Anything musical is on my must-do list! Music brings richness and more joy to the holidays in my opinion :) I've broken into song on more than one occasion this Christmas season ;)

My great aunt used to love playing Parcheesi but I never learned how. Grandma kept the board handy for whenever her sister and brother-in-law came to visit. They also enjoyed playing bridge, canasta, pinochle, euchre and some other card games. Don't know how to play any of those card games, either LOL

Thanks for sharing your memories, Carol!