It is Christmas Eve. My thoughts turn to the demands of this annual social and shopping tsunami that is more focused on the economic crisis than with a child of God being born. Several of my friends have unburdened themselves to me as they anticipate the gathering of family and the ritual of traditional food and hostility. “I’ll just keep my mouth shut,” they say while wrapping their gifts. I know of only one family who happily anticipates this annual gathering but since they get together several times a year because they enjoy each other’s company anyway, they don’t count.
Sad to say, but for me, the holiday season is a time to get through without collateral damage. But Christmas Eve is different. It’s the promise that something beautiful is about to occur. Perhaps it’s a projection from past Christmas Eves still bolstering my joy, the eager anticipation of Christmas morning when my three sisters (my brother was still an infant) and I perched at the top of the stairs where our bedrooms were located and waited for the clock to strike 6am, which is when our exhausted parents told us we were allowed to come down to see what Santa had left us. We were usually up by 4am and during our long wait invariably had to use the loo, which involved going downstairs PAST THE CHRISTMAS TREE to get to the single bathroom in the house. We had to solemnly promise to cover our eyes with our hands and NOT LOOK AT THE TREE NO CHEATING but of course, when it was my turn, I was overwhelmed with breathless temptation and told myself that glimpses through my spread fingers wasn’t really LOOKING and therefore wasn’t cheating. The dazzling silver tinsel sparkling from the reflected light of the stairwell and the stacks of wrapped gifts always took my breath away as I scampered past on my way to the bathroom, which happened to be opposite my parents’ bedroom so there was no yelling out SANTA CLAUS WAS HERE!
Mom and Dad had no idea we tortured ourselves every year or how many agonizing hours the four of us spent together at the top of the stairs. Now they tell us we could have come down sooner. Frankly, I am glad we never thought to ask and waited until 6 o’clock. It has become the memory over which I warm my heart.