I’ve decided the reason I enjoy Christmas so much is not just the gift giving or the baking or the holiday music. It’s not just the family time or the time off or the hustle and bustle.
Christmas is so special to me because of the memories. More than any other holiday, Christmas conjures up fun times and special moments in my life long gone, but never forgotten.
I remember the family Christmas parties with aunts, uncles and cousins (many of whom I didn’t even know) gathered around the piano singing “Deck the Halls” and “We Three Kings”.
I remember “helping” my dad put up the trains, or platform, as we called it, in the kitchen, assembling tiny houses and arranging miniature people in all sorts of odd configurations.
I remember using that same platform as a fort, hiding under it and dreaming of all the toys I was sure Santa would bring me.
I remember coming home from school and hearing Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis belting out “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “A Christmas Song” over the stereo.
I remember the smell of chocolate chip cookies as they baked in the oven (and my mom threatening us not to eat them or we wouldn’t have any on Christmas night!)
I remember helping my father decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, hanging homemade ornaments and stringing gold garland, as my mom readied the turkey in the kitchen.
I remember waking up at 5:00 a.m. and gathering on my sister’s bed, telling stories of Christmas’ past and guessing what time we could safely go down and wake our parents.
I remember rounding the corner and seeing the Christmas tree surrounded by brightly wrapped gifts, and having to wait "patiently" on the steps for my older siblings to wake up.
I remember the excitement of unwrapping each gift, an Easy Bake Oven one year, a Barbie camper another year, always amazed Santa got me just what I wanted!
I remember digging into my stocking and always finding a LifeSavers book, a toothbrush and an orange (always in the heal of the stocking) among other things. (Santa certainly was consistent!)
I remember the disappointment of having to put down all those fun toys for a few hours and going to Mass – the requisite time-out that I’m sure I needed but never wanted!
I remember the anticipation of calling my best friend and running back and forth between houses to see what we had gotten (a practice we still do to this day).
I remember it all – the excitement, wonder, joy and love Christmas brought with it. And for me, THAT is what Christmas is all about.
These days, as a mother, that excitement and joy can be overshadowed by the cleaning, shopping, cooking, wrapping and baking. However, I try and remind myself that I am now making memories for my children; memories that I hope they will hold as dear and close to their hearts as I hold mine.
And so this season I wish you all a Christmas full of fun times, delicious food, family gatherings and precious moments that will carry you through the years.
Merry Christmas to all and to all, Happy Memories!