I am sure we all have stories of our youth concerning the anticipation of Christmas.
I remember my sister and me trying to hide under an end table in our living room so we could see Santa. Of course, Mom came and told us Santa knew we were still awake and was not coming until we were asleep in our own beds. Drat, we thought we had it figured out; but moms know their kids best. Remembering our attempt to see Santa is probably why I enjoy the commercial with the children all sitting on the couch with their headlights illuminating the fireplace. Did we not all want to catch Santa in the act?
The most exciting stories of anticipation and suspense come from my husband Michael. His family had a wonderful tradition that made the expectancy almost too much to tolerate.
Two weeks before Christmas, Michael’s parents would close off their living room. The house had wonderful sliding pocket doors separating the dining room from the living room, making it easy for them to block the access from the dining room. The living room also had a glass panel door with a key lock separating it from the hall access. The glass pane was covered on the inside to hide all the activity going on behind.
To hear my husband talk of the expectation it was almost more than a child could endure. The days would slowly tick by as the boys lay on the floor trying to see under the door. Who was in the room? What were they doing? Was it Santa? Was it his helping elves?
Joey, Michael, and Kevin had a truly exciting Christmas morning. Finally, the three boys would come down the steps, still in their PJs to find the hall door slightly ajar showing ever-changing reflections from the fully lit Christmas tree just beyond their vision. The boys would enter the living room to see all the gifts displayed not wrapped. It was like walking into a wonderland of toys. Being boys, they would find such delights as forts with soldiers assembled and ready for enjoyment, or a farmland fully displayed. On one Christmas morning, it took Kevin nearly 15 minutes to spot the 10-speed Schwinn bike behind the door the boys opened.
Marguerite, Michael’s mother was a master at decorating and displaying. So naturally she would have the Nativity scene displayed, and the stockings were there filled with even more fascinating wonders. She would also make exhibits of winter scenes. Like ice skating figurines on a mirror with cotton laid out to look like snow on the hillsides around a frozen pond.
I remember one display she gave me. She took a large round inflated balloon and worked her magic. She soaked string in a sugar and water solution, and then she would wrap the coated string around and around the balloon until it took on the appearance of a white globe of lattice string. Once it was dry, she would pop the balloon, allowing the string to hold the form. Michael’s dad then cut a circle entrance to the sphere and flattened one side to stop the sphere from rolling. Again using cotton and miniature figurines Marguerite would build a display of a town square complete with a Christmas tree. It was a delight and so fascinating.
Her cost effective displays added to the wonder of Christmas. Not to mention the 144 gross of cookies she baked. Yes, that is 144 X 144….do the math. She would seal them in decorative tins with tape to deter the boys from getting into the cookies. This would have worked if Michael and Kevin had not gone out and purchased their own roll of tape.
Michael and his brothers must have enjoyed those Christmases of their youth. I know that I love hearing the stories of how their parents kept the wonder and spirit of Christmas for everyone to enjoy.
I hope the parents of today are creating such magnificent memories for their children. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. It just needs to be from the heart.
Merry Christmas to all and God Bless!