Note to my daughters: This is a long blog, you may want to skip it today!
I am determined to get ready for Christmas as of today. If I blog about it maybe I will actually do it. Now that the other holidays are behind us maybe I can focus on the one I always loved the most. I already did some shopping online and would love to get out to the stores and browse around for some other ideas. It’s not easy coming up with gift ideas for 20 something girls who have basically everything. I whine about this every year and every year it just gets harder.
I decided I need to put on some Christmas music every day and hope it will inspire me to clean and straighten up. Maybe, and this is a long shot, it will help me recapture the Christmas spirit I had long ago as a kid. You remember those days when you were filled with excitement and anticipation. It was a joyful time. There was laughter and people really did “eat, drink and were merry.” Our parents were all young and took care of everything.
My mother used to ask us for Christmas lists every year. My brother and I were only too happy to comply (not like my kids). We made a long list and at the end we always added “surprises.” My mother would say, you want all that and surprises too??? Of course we did, otherwise we would know everything we were getting! Christmas time was the one time my parents spared no expense. I never remember being disappointed. I only remember getting everything on my list and surprises too. She even filled up our stockings. If you knew my mother, this was probably the last thing she wanted to do, shop for little items for the stockings, but she did it. She loved to see us happy.
We lived in a small, four room apartment. There was really no place to hide gifts, let alone those big toy boxes. I remember that she had a large wardrobe in her bedroom. Every year at this time there would be lots of large shopping bags on top of it. That is where she hid all our presents, there really was no other place. Of course, when we were little, we never put two and two together. As we got older and more suspicious, I kind of knew what was going on, but I didn’t want to. I clung to the idea of Santa as long as I could and didn’t want to let go. I was smart that way because somehow I knew once you crossed the line to a nonbeliever you entered the world of “lost innocence” and all that comes with it.
I recall the defining moment when I could not keep myself in denial any longer and lost my “innocence.” I may have been about ten years old. We have my aunt sleeping over at out apartment and she took my bed while I slept on the couch. The living room was adjacent to the kitchen and as I was older and it was Christmas Eve, I went to bed later. I couldn’t fall asleep from the excitement. My mother came upstairs from her card game with my aunts and uncles around midnight or one o’clock. I wasn’t asleep yet. So I heard her taking down all the bags from on top of the wardrobe and carry them past me into the kitchen. I kept my eyes tightly closed and tried to distract myself and make myself go to sleep. It was useless. All the wrapping and scotch taping and plastic bags crunching just kept me awake. I don’t know why she didn’t wrap everything while we were in school and put it back on top of the wardrobe? I never asked her why she waited until Christmas Eve, late at night, to do her wrapping. Now I will never know. I can only guess it was too much trouble to take it all down and put it all back on top of the closet. But anyway, the damage was done. I tried to feign denial and forget all I heard but it was not happening.
When I had my own children, I tried everything in my power to keep the magic of Santa Claus and Christmas going as long as possible. It’s even harder these days. Kids are so smart and even if they still believe there is always a smart ass at school that has to ruin it. My older daughter had one of them in her class. Dennis McGown. The year she was in kindergarten he tells her there is no Santa Claus! I had a fit because she came to question me and I had to undo the damage. She was only 5 years old. That’s way too soon not to believe. From then on, she was always looking for proof that Santa existed and I had to provide it. One year Santa left a note with a big black thumb print on it. Another year we had to leave an apple for the reindeer and she had to find it half eaten. One year I had my husband stand out in the yard ringing sleigh bells under her window so I could tell her Santa was flying overhead and she needed to get to sleep so he could bring the presents.
My older daughter remained a skeptic thanks to that blabbermouth Dennis. I had to answer questions like: Why is Santa’s handwriting like yours? Why does Santa use the same wrapping paper as you do? How does he get in the house when we have no chimney? It was exhausting. I can’t wait till she has kids she has to answer to.
Well, I’ve reminisced enough this morning. Time to get the house in order so that when my younger daughter finishes finals we can decorate the tree, bake and shop!