Santa came. In the middle of the night he crept in the front door of my sister's house and left amazing things for my niece and nephew. He left moon shoes, Woody and Buzz, a basketball goal with a basketball for each of them, a new dress for Abbi and a faux chain link costume with sword and shield for Dylan. My mother woke me as it neared 7am so that we could get to my sister's house before the kids ran into the living room to discover their bounty.
It puts a smile on my face right now thinking about it. Memories of my own childhood flood back. I can remember running into the living room to see what Santa had left me in the middle of the night. I always looked to see if the cookies and milk were gone. They always were. The same can be said for this particular Christmas. Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk. A sure sign that he had been there. As for the Google Map, it said that Santa was located at the North Pole. He was home after a long night of delivering packages.
We like to open gifts one at a time so that everyone can see what everyone else got/gave. This particular year, my sister managed to stretch the morning extra long. What could have been over in 15-20 minutes, lasted over an hour and no one complained about it. It made that special time last just a little longer.
You see, once the gifts are opened there's so much to choose from that nothing is really special any more. It's all just new stuff. Taking your time allows the magic, the pleasure, the excitement to sink in, and makes you really see how precious it is.
This year a major theme in our giving was LOST season 5. I gave it to my brother-in-law, Seth, my parents gave it to me, and in a surprise twist that no one saw coming, I gave it to my parents. I think there might be a picture of each of us holding up our copy of LOST. That made for much amusement and laughter. There were shoes given to Mom, loads of dvd's given to me, jewelry, bedding, and a jacket she wanted given to my sister, and Dad received the camouflage under armor that he had wished for. Santa and his helpers were so good to us. On a personal note, I gave Abbi the entire set of Harry Potter books. Something I've wanted to do for two years. She's now at the age where she can start reading them. My hope for her is that she loves them as much as I. As for Dylan, I gave him a blast-from-the-past in the form of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots (from my mom's youth) and Toss Across (from my youth). He loved both.
I am big on traditions and my mom is as well. Many years ago, so many I can't even remember when, my mom started cooking a big family breakfast on Christmas morning. Scrambled eggs, fried country ham, biscuits and gravy fill the house with their unique smells while we fill the chairs at the table anticipating the first bite. The amount of people present at this particular breakfast varies every year, but when you can be there it's a moment that you will long to be a part of next year even as your current plate has just a little biscuits and gravy left on it from this year.
It's all about family. Family gathering to open gifts. Family gathering for Christmas breakfast. Family gathering to play games and eat together later that night. The older I get, the more important these family moments become. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love the traditions that come with Christmas. One such tradition that I've had for years is to give my mom the Wizard of Oz ornaments from Hallmark. She has been a lover of that film for as long as I can remember. It gives me such joy to give those ornament to her each year. Some years they are part of her Christmas gifts and other years they are just ornaments that are sent early so they can be enjoyed on the Wizard of Oz tree she has for only those ornaments. Sadly, this year, the Wizard of Oz tree didn't make it over from the barn. It's okay though, the two new ornaments were hung on the regular tree. A new tradition started by me two years ago concerns my three cousins, Casey, Leah, and Whit. We have grown so much closer over the past five years. A closeness that began at our grandmother's funeral. I've written about them and our lives already so I won't go into again here. What I started giving to them is also from Hallmark. I give Casey the Rudolph ornament. Whit gets the A Charlie Brown Christmas ornament. Leah gets Frosty the Snowman. The reaction from them is joy and maybe a bit of nostalgia at receiving the ornament. I receive joy. Pure and simple. Joy is a good thing, even if you create it yourself. The older I get the happier I am at the giving.
Leah, Casey, and Whit all arrived Christmas night. My sister and I were so excited for them to get to her house. I hadn't seen them since October. I basically had one day to hang out with them so I wanted to make the most of every moment. I told myself before leaving NYC that I was going to live in each moment, enjoy it, soak it up, without the countdown worry to leaving the next day. My dad is the worst at talking about how quickly it's all flying by. I chose to not take part in any of that kind of nonsense this year.
Life with my family was good. Traditions were kept alive once more. The familiar sounds and smells of the holiday were ever present in the house. As for my favorite Hallmark ornament, it's the Grinch.