When I was little I loved Christmas. I still do. I loved every minute building up to it. I loved opening the Advent calendar doors every morning to find a cute little picture hiding behind it. I loved that my mother baked pumpkin bread in coffee cans and filled the freezer with it. I loved going shopping with my father for my mother’s gift. I loved everything building up to Christmas. And then I loved waking up early and sitting around the tree opening presents and then playing with the new toys. We were lucky and always got more for Christmas that we needed or could even want. It was magical to hope for something and then have it appear that morning wrapped tightly in paper and ribbons. My mother always seemed to save that one special, best present for last. One year I got a Play Doh farm and I sat and molded Play Doh pigs all day. Another year I got a big play house made of cardboard that I could really sit in. My mother gave me an old, fuzzy yellow rug to put in it. That Christmas was magical and so was that house. The presents of course were wonderful but the part of Christmas that I remember most fondly is the afternoon spent after all the presents were opened.
Now it was time to get ready for the party! We would gather every year at either our house or my Auntie Pauline’s house. The house was full of people laughing and playing and eating and that was even more magical. My cousin Chris would always bring over some nerdy electronic game and my Uncle Bud would give us all a quarter. Auntie Janie always wore that same perfume from year to year and Ronie would always play with the kids. That was Christmas to me. Playing cards, eating crackers and cheese and Spanish peanuts. That was the best day of the year.
Christmas day is different now. Although I still love spending the day with family, I don’t look forward to sitting around the tree and opening presents. My family is fortunate and there are toys for everyone but the magic is mostly gone. The gifts are planned and picked from a list that my sister demands gets created before Halloween. The magical paper houses have been replaced with candles, sweaters and Home Depot gift cards. Although the day is still spent with family, the gathering has dwindled to immediate family. Some of the older relatives of course have died, the cousins grew up and started their own traditions and the others have drifted mostly over petty arguments. The day is still wonderful it’s just a little less magical.
I still love Christmas as much as I did when I was a kid but I love the build up to it more than the day itself. I love the smell of the Christmas trees and wreaths, lights on people’s houses and egg nog. I love the Salvation Army bells outside the grocery stores. I love baking my own pumpkin bread and I love my little Christmas tree with its little white lights and tinsel. So for the next 23 days I will enjoy the wonder and magic of the season. Maybe this year I will bring someone their paper house for Christmas even if its’ not on the preapproved gift list.