Christmas time is here! Happiness and cheer!
Sigh. I just love Christmas. I always have. The decorations, the tree, the anticipation, giving gifts, getting gifts.....it's all just so super.
I spent some time last night reminiscing over my favorite Christmas memories from years past. I am so blessed to have so many.
When I was a small child, Christmas eve was spent at my grandparents house. My fun-loving and mischievous grandfather would dress up as Santa, complete with jingle bells and a huge sack filled with presents for me, my brother and cousins. He would even make noises upstairs that would mimic the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof. When I got wise to him (having noticed that Santa had the same WWII injured hand that my Pop did), my uncle took over. When a different Santa came down the stairs that year, my mind was completely blown! It wasn't my Pop Pop after all! Santa was real!
On Christmas night my Dad and I would bundle up after dinner and take our annual walk. We would critique and evaluate every decorated house we could find. And if you know NE Philly, and specifically Mayfair, this means nearly every single house. In addition, we would take note of those scary moving figures. You know the ones. The angels with the candles, or the Santa and Mrs. Claus. There was one, in particular, on Sackett street that was especially macabre. We would make up elaborate stories about how the Christmas angel would come to life and murder everyone with her plastic lighted candle. Every year we would say the same thing. No house was a beautiful as ours. My mom was always the reigning queen of Christmas in our neighborhood.
While I have plenty of wonderful Christmas memories of my Dad, it was really my mom who made Christmas so much more special then I could even have dreamed. First, every square inch of our house was decorated. Tastefully so. No inflatables for the Macklin's. The big picture window was always done in snowflakes and white lights with a big Moravian star in the center. The first year she put that star up caused quite a stir. The following year we definitely noticed at least 5 houses in the neighborhood with the same star. Lights, candles, poinsettias! It was all there. I do my windows the same way. I even use the same kinds of candles. I like decorating and my boys say I'm good at it. Everything I know I learned from my mom.
The tree. We always had a real tree. Usually it was a douglas fir, which is the same kind I get for my own house. Every year, for nearly two decades, my parents and I would travel to Bucks county to the same tree farm where you could cut your own tree. My mother, again, was in charge. She would take strips of ribbon with her to mark potential trees. Slowly narrowing it down to the best one. My dad would cut it down, which was amusing because he almost never did it right. We took it home and my mother took to the very serious task of putting the colored lights on. Always start from the bottom and zig zag your way in and out of the tree. That way the tree looks like it's glowing from the inside. Only when the lights and garland were on were my father and I allowed near it. The ornaments were my favorite. We were one of those families that collected ornaments for every trip or event in our lives. My dad's massive heart attack? On there. Our trip to Hawaii? A santa in board shorts carrying a pineapple. My mother even saved a teeny little snowman I made in preschool. I had colored it completely black. It's my favorite. When people would come to our house my father would show them every ornament on the tree. Teenage-me would roll my eyes, but I loved it. Every second.
Now, I have a family of my own. Having a child at Christmas is where it's at. Seriously. It's like getting to live those wonderful childhood christmases of your own all over again. The joy of carefully arranging the toys under the tree and the anticipation of Charlie seeing them for the first time is unlike any other kind of joy I've experienced. And my husband? Well I call him Mr. Christmas. He lives for the season. Actually starts counting down sometime in June. I love that about him. My little guy loves it too, it's hard not to with Nick as your father.
I hope that you have your own special memories of Christmas. I am joyful and thankful this year for everything and everyone in my life. I am very very lucky. I hope you and yours have a very merry and bright holiday!