Since my son has been born, the holiday of Christmas has changed for me. The first year he was amazed at the lights and mostly wanted to pull the tree down. He didn't really care to open the presents the wrapped boxes looked just great to him.
Each year I think, "wow, this is going to be the best Christmas." I was wrong though, this year is going to be really really cool. This year he wrote a letter to Santa. This year he didn't cry when we went to visit Santa, but he still looked like he'd really rather keep his distance. He thought of something else he wanted, besides the Bulldozer, (a microphone) but thought we could just yell it at him from a safe distance in the mall rather than going to his lap again. I didn't care to stand on the massive line and assured Luc that Santa had incredible hearing.
This year we have two advent calendars (the one from Grandma gives you chocolate!) and each morning before preschool he loves to open a window or hang a bell on the tree. He understands that once the windows are all open and the tree is full of bells: it's Christmas. Although, he still asks me each night when I tuck him in, "Mommy, is it Christmas Eve?"
I remember Christmas as a young girl. My Mother always did her best to make it extra special. My Mother is French and in their culture, Christmas Eve is the real holiday. The party starts at midnight and they have a feast throughout the night into the wee hours of the morning.
Every Christmas Eve, my Mother would send my brother and me off to bed promising to wake us later to open our presents. I would try to fall asleep, but it was so painful. Just as I thought I would never get to sleep, my Mother was waking me up. I was always surprised that I had actually fallen asleep.
Peering around the corner of the living room entrance, the glow of the Christmas lights filled the room. I remember looking at the "fake" candles my mother put in our windows with their yellow flame-like light bulbs. There was a scratch on one of the bulbs where white light peeked through. Our tree was always the biggest of anyone I knew. I loved to sit and stare at the tree and watch the lights twinkle and reflect off of the ornaments. I knew the story of each ornament; the gold pine cone from my grandfather, the gingerbread men my Mother bought in NYC, and the manger under the tree with real hay that we kept in a plastic bag.
Eyes feeling scratchy, I stumbled into the living room. It was always so magical. All the lights were out except for the lights of the Christmas tree and decorative candles. The television was on Channel 11 (NY) so we could watch the "Yule Log" burn and listen to Christmas music. Who says virtual reality is new?
As my brother and I ripped through the pile of presents, my Mother sat in the dark comer watching us. We bought her gifts: once they were brown potholders that she had paid for and helped us wrap, all the while claiming "Don't worry, I'm not looking."
I remember the year I got the Barbie Townhouse. The Townhouse was the mother of all Barbie products. I ripped through the paper, screaming and jumping up and down. When I looked over at my mother with sheer euphoria, I saw a smile come over her face.
I guess this year I will finally get to feel what my mother felt. This time it's not about what I'll get, it's about waiting to see how excited Luc will be when he sees that Santa ate the cookies, drank the milk, took the reindeer food, and of course, left a bright yellow bulldozer beneath the tree.
© Copyright 2001, Claudine M. Jalajas