This is my favorite season.
When we are talking about the four seasons give me summer any day. I love warm weather and the automatic smile that it gives when the sun is shining. I love the satisfaction of freshly mowed grass and the smell that comes with that... the sound of sprinklers spraying on the yard... the long evenings... the smell of a BBQ when out on the patio...the casualness of the time in dress and attitude.... Definitely my favorite of the four seasons.
But Christmas season? The best of all.
I have more memories of Christmas as a child than of anything else. Thanksgiving would come and the countdown would begin - in my mind anyway. Right about that time the Sears catalog would arrive in the mail and with it the game of "picking". It was played with one of my sisters each time and a game it was - there were rules. From each page a favorite thing was picked. We had to take turns from page to page on who got the privilege of the first choice and you could not pick the same thing on any given page as the other person. Eventually it was narrowed down to the one thing that each of us so desperately wanted for Christmas. The main present as it was so called. Why we thought we needed to decide from the catalog what we would request as our main present is beyond me as my mom seldom actually ordered from the catalog but that was how it was done by us kids and I remember literally hours spent "picking".
Shopping is another favorite memory. We, as the children, only went once in order to complete our list. Mom would take us to the "dime store" and there we were given a small amount of money to buy each person in the family a present. Mom would take us around in the store showing us at least 3 things that each person might like that fit within our budget, then she would go to another part of the store (no one worried about child kidnapping in those days!) and we would do our gift buying. I can still remember the excitement of choosing the perfect gift for some one else and believing, somehow, that my mother would be surprised on Christmas morning to see what I had given her! I can't say that at a young age I thought it was more blessed to give than to receive. I'm sure that my parents tried to teach us that but let's face it - opening presents was a big deal!
We usually spent Christmas Eve with family which would add to the anticipation of the big day. We were put to bed fairly late (with our mother hoping we would sleep but knowing it was unlikely) and than it would begin - the longest night of the year. I don't remember ever believing in Santa but we did always have stockings. We knew our parents filled them after we were in bed and we would wait and listen for the sounds of the job being accomplished. At last, the house was silent and then........the sounds of two exhausted parents!
Free - we were free at last! Well, that is, as long as we were quiet and snuck around. Always at least one sister was taken as an accomplice as we tip toed to the living room. I'm not sure if it's the decorator in me or the truth but the tree was always lit up and it was beautiful. Sometimes it was a real tree and sometimes a silver metallic one with a multi- colored wheel that spun around supposedly turning the tree into a different colors as it turned. I didn't matter which tree it was - it was magical! We would check our stockings to see what filled them to overflowing - usually candy, cookies and rice crispy squares along with a few small toys. (One entire night was spent in the bathroom, so as not to wake our parents, playing with our Barbies as we had gotten clothes for them made by our neighbor lady. One of the funnest nights of my life!) Periodically we would check the time and try to sleep as the minutes creeped by. Because of waking my parents one morning very early, they had set a time of 6:00 to be the EARLIEST we could wake them. (Imagine what caused that rule! By the way, I carried down this same time restraint with my own children!)
6:00, at last! We would wake the two of them and than more waiting...could they move any slower? Did we really need the fire in the fireplace BEFORE we opened the presents? Who cared that Christmas music was playing in the background? But these are the things I treasure in my memory and they were all part of it - my favorite thing about Christmas as child - the anticipation.
I remember very little of what the actual presents turned out to be. At the time I thought the gifts were the most important thing but I have come to realize, as an adult, that the best part of the season were the people, the feelings, the sights and the sounds.
The Christmas story being read by my Dad- Programs and plays having to do with the season- Cookies in Christmas shapes and candy that was made only at that time of year- Wrapping presents with the holiday music in the background- Shaking each gift and trying to guess what was inside- Putting tinsel on the tree,3 strands at a time so it didn't clump!- The Santas on the street corners ringing their bells so people would put their change in the red kettles- Driving around looking at "lights"-Wearing mittens and scarves on our annual shopping day to combat the crisp December air- Cocoa and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (which is still a tradition at our house)- Hearing my Mom singing quietly as she prepared Christmas dinner- The excitement of getting together with extended family and playing with cousins...
So many memories that fill my heart.
Thank you, Mom and Dad.
Can I say it enough?
I am a rich girl!