The holidays are upon us once again, arriving in my world at warp speed. Wasn’t Christmas just last week? And along with the endless barrage of Christmas commercials, so begins an acute and incurable state of “gimme-itis”.
Whenever the kids see a commercial for the latest fad toy or electronic gadget and yell, “I want that, Mom!” I heave a huge sigh, hug them and tell them the same thing.
“Y’know, when Laura Ingalls was growing up…” I begin as my oldest child rolls his eyes, “all she got one Christmas was a candy cane and a penny.”
“I thought you said all she got was a ribbon for her hair and an orange?” my eight year old son teases.
“Right. Hmm. Maybe…anyway, my point is that whatever gift she got on Christmas…”
“…she was HAPPY about it. I know, Mom.” my son sighs.
Well, she was happy. She was grateful. Because Laura knew the most important thing on Christmas in that little house on the prairie was being together with family and friends. And appreciating the simple joys in life: a warm fireplace, food on the table and laughter and love.
When I conjure up images in my mind from Christmases past, do I remember the Nancy Drew books or the Barbie Townhouse I got one year? Okay, maybe a little. But when I transport myself back in time to my childhood, what I remember most about this time of year is my family. Trite but true.
I remember my father tucking us into bed on Christmas Eve and telling us to listen closely for Santa’s sleigh bells. I think of my brothers and me, sneaking downstairs in the pre-dawn darkness, giggling and tiptoeing in an attempt to steal a peek at our stockings. I think of my mom unwrapping her presents so slowly, we thought New Year’s Day would arrive any minute. I remember my dog gleefully eating the tinsel off the tree and wagging her tail so hard the ornaments fell off.
In my mind’s eye, I vividly see the living room in my old childhood house, every inch covered with twinkling lights, courtesy of my Dad (Clark Griswold had nuthin’ on him). The snow is falling softly outside the window and my dog is snoozing at my feet.
On Christmas morning, after tearing through all the presents, we’re playing a board game together. We’re laughing and teasing. The day is full of the sheer excitement of simply being together. I didn’t realize then just how good I had it.
These are the golden memories I hold in my mind. As for the presents, don’t remember most of them.
Now, my brothers are scattered across the country. My father and my dog have long since passed. My childhood home is gone. I am a little sad, but mostly grateful. I can revisit these past Christmases anytime, if I close my eyes tight and open my heart wide.
Besides, there are so many more holidays to come with my own children. I am ready to wrap my arms tight around each and every moment, clinging to them while they are happening so they take deep root in my heart and stay forever. I will attempt to savor, not rush.
And if all I get this Christmas is a shiny penny or a candy cane, that’s more than enough for me.