This year, as the decorations go up and colorful lights brighten the darkness, let your mind wander to the past and awaken the ghosts that are sleeping there. Deep in the recesses of your memories, remember your own childhood and the anticipation you felt on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney (and, in my case, somehow come through our fake fireplace).
When I was a child, we would place a plate of cookies by the tree and then scurry up to bed. But sleep always seemed to evade us, instead we lied awake, straining our young ears to hear the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof. Oh, the magic! The excitement! The wonder! Even now, I can see myself, tucked into bed next to my sister, waiting for the sound that would prove that Santa existed. With our bedroom door closed, sooner or later we would hear the muffled sounds from above us, as presents were brought down from the attic and laid beneath the tree downstairs. But, as a child, I preferred to imagine . . . I preferred to . . . Believe.
Memories . . . Ghosts of Christmas Past . . . Eggnog, Chestnuts, (my father, whose name was Tony, placing his finger on his toe, then on his knee, then to his chest, and finally to his head . . . saying along the way: Toe-knee-chest-nut!), Struffoli, Pressed Butter Cookies, Sugar Cookies, Yum!
Secret plans were made on Christmas Eve between my older sister, younger brother and myself. Whomever woke up first, would wake the others. No one would go down to the Christmas Tree until we were all ready. On Christmas morning, we would wake at the first hint of dawn and gather in the hallway. We scampered down the stairs . . . I remember my feet stuffed into feety-pajamas and the sound that the souls of our feet would make as they rubbed against the carpet.
The tree would be lit with it’s string of colored lights, thread-bare with black electric tape covering the exposed wires. The television was turned on to Channel 11 for the Yule Log. We waited, impatiently, for our parents to find their seats and then we searched the presents for the gift tags with our names on them. Although we didn’t have a lot of presents, for us it was a treasure trove. And after the last present was unwrapped . . . there were the Christmas stockings. Oh, the fear that we would find coal in our stockings!!!! Spinning tops, Jax, Slinkys, Silly Putty, Bottles of Bubbles, and candy were poured onto the floor and marveled over. I remember it all so well.
Those days, some fifty years ago or so, will never fade from my memory.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy