As I was contemplating what to share with you as we begin the “Ber” months, I found myself reflecting on my childhood. I believe the true magic of Christmas as an adult is often the feelings you hold onto from childhood. That made me decide that I would share some of my best childhood memories and family traditions.
We always spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house. My grandmother and I would spend a couple weeks baking cookies and pies for the party. It would be the whole family and some close family friends who came every year. I just remember how filled with love the house was. My grandparents’ house was built on a golf course. The developers built this oval of homes around it with just one street going in and out so it was a special little place. Every Christmas Eve, everyone that lived there would line their lawns and driveways with luminarias. For us it was small paper bags with sand and candles. Anyone who would be out of town would make arrangements for someone to do theirs. At 9 pm everyone would come out and light their candles. Some said it was lighting the way for Jesus, others for Santa, some for both. For hours a parade of cars would drive through and we’d spend time out front waving to everyone. It’s an amazing thing to feel a part of something so big when you are so small. We’d always have a birthday cake for baby Jesus. My grandmother wanted us to remember why we were celebrating. We’d cap off the evening searching the skies for Santa. It was always an evening of love and lots of magic. As a girl, I was always so excited. I think I looked forward to that party as much as I did the gifts Christmas morning. I may love the spirit of Christmas but I was still a typical child. I wanted some loot. I also grew up in a time where when you said you wanted something the answer was, “Put it on your Christmas List.” Sometimes you’d get birthday list instead. Not fun when Christmas was a month ago so you really waited for Christmas.
Christmas morning our stockings would be at the foot of our beds. Santa always thoughtfully filled them with coloring books and new crayons (back then new crayons were a big deal), puzzle books, and things to keep us busy until our parents woke up. Then we’d open gifts and have breakfast followed by Church. Once home, while my mom starting working on Christmas dinner, my job was to arrange the gifts under the tree so the family could see what we got. By early afternoon, the whole family would be there. There was already a feeling that Christmas was over. That was okay. The feeling stayed with me. Plus, there was always next year to look forward to. In a world of never-ending change, those traditions were a constant. Like an emotional security blanket. Something you could count on. You knew, if only that night, you’d feel a bit of magic.
Until we meet again….