It is a complete cliche but it happened to me. The spirit of Christmas has returned. Yes, super cheesy, but I am telling the truth.
I remember Christmas as a kid. It had a feeling. A smell. It was my favorite time of year. Then one year it stopped. Christmas time came and nothing. I think I was about 22. It was the worst Christmas ever.But this year was different. The spirit took a little while to get here, but it finally arrived.
She is almost three, so the whole Santa Claus thing is a brand new concept. But by Christmas morning I think she got it. It occurred to me about three days before Christmas, that as a family we could start our own traditions. So cookies, milk and carrots for the rain deer (Ya, ya not a new tradition but...you know). Then The Night Before Christmas Book that auntie Sid sent. It would be perfect.
I have been a bit of a head case these days (hence the lack of blog posts). My mind and memory are like scrambled eggs. I spent most of Christmas Eve day worrying that I would forget to put out the cookies and read her the story. I felt like I needed to make myself a note. Seriously. I finally broke down and told my sister not to let me forget. The look on her face was priceless. I think she thought I was joking. Nope, 1,100% serious. Of course she would never remember that I forgot, but the mothers guilt would follow me year after year.
As the light of the day ended, we enjoyed a Christmas Eve dinner with my father (Papy). She got an intro to opening presents as she tore into the gifts Papy brought for her and her brothers. Then before bed the cookies, milk and carrots were out and The Night Before Christmas was read. I kiss on the cheek and off with the lights. As I closed the door, she asked "is Santa coming?"
"Yes, Santa is coming. But he won't come if you are awake." Echoing my mom years ago.
As we helped Santa and the raindeer by drinking the milk and gnawing on the cookies and carrots, I realized that the magic of Christmas was returning.
Before hitting the pillow myself, I put the presents from Santa under the Christmas tree and stuffed a couple of goodies in the stockings. For effect.
She woke us up at around 7:30am by bashing me in the stomach with a book. You should try it sometime. It truly is a lovely way to wake up. I asked her if Santa had come. Kinda like a dog, she cocked her head to one side and in the sing-song voice replied "Santa?"
"Yes, Santa might have come to our house. It's Christmas!"
"Oh." She replied. I could see the wheels in her head turning. Trying to figure out what in the ___ I was talking about.
He ran down stairs ahead of us to turn on the tree and get positioned for a picture. Watch out Ansel Adams! My husband is the pro photog!
As we came down the stairs and over to the tree, she was silent. I was so worried that she would not be thrilled. What if she wasn't thrilled? While it would make for a great story to tell at her wedding, what if she wasn't thrilled and was more interested in the lack of cock 'n balls on the tree? What kind of child have I raised? Have I not taught her better? I mean really. Presents! They are one of the greatest things on earth. Fact.
Anyhow, the look of bewilderment and amazement as she stood in front of the plate with the one lonely, half eaten cookie and an empty glass of milk. "Where did they go?" she said as she looked back at me.
"Santa ate them!" I said with as much glee as one can muster without having consumed a drop of coffee.
"Santa ate them?"
"Yes. Santa was here and he ate the cookies. But he left presents."
My eyes welled up with tears. The magic of Christmas had returned. Right then and there I could feel it in every ounce of my body. It was wonderful. Easily one of the greatest feelings.
And off she went tearing into the wrapping paper. While the few gifts that we were able to afford occupied her for about 13 minutes, it did not matter. The gift of giving her the magic of Christmas is priceless. Those moments will stay with me forever.