My eyes pop open and my body is filled with more excitement than it can hold. I can’t believe I fell asleep before I heard the sound of sleigh bells and hoof steps on our roof.
“You awake?” I call softly across the room to my little sister Sheilagh.
“Yes,” she giggles back.
“Let’s go,” I whisper my command.
We silently slip from our beds, ever so gently open our bedroom door and without breathing make our way down the hallway to the darkened living room entrance. The sweet smell of the pine tree fills our noses as we strain our eyes to make out the shapes of presents piled around the Christmas tree. It’s impossible to contain our glee but rules are rules and we know we are not allowed in the living room before everyone is up. So UP everyone shall be!
Our older sister Pat meets us in the hallway and the three of us dash into our parent’s room.
“Mom! Dad! Santa’s been here!” we scream in near unison.
After waiting for what seemed like forever, as our parents get out of bed, we are released to the living room and allowed to open our stocking before having breakfast. Santa always leaves a candy cane, hard Christmas ribbon candies, a mandarin orange and a small little gift at our stocking. The rest, the really good stuff has to wait until Nana is up (she always stays overnight on Christmas eve), Christmas music is playing and Dad is in position beside the tree. Only he can hand out the presents. Dad controls the timing of each gift, the order in which each of us receive presents, and always keeps the excitement of the presents building.
Every Christmas morning was filled with surprise, laughter and screams of joy. Many of our presents were practical like, pajamas, tops, pants, parkas but we always had one extra special gift, the one that stopped us cold and took our breath away. Christmas was always a day of wonderment.
More than the any gift, our ritual was really about the immense amount of love that was given and the simple joy of family. It is the enormity of love that I have for my husband, my family and my friends that I cherish this Christmas. A present I unwrap each day. It fills my heart, my soul and extends beyond the boundaries of my being.
May you share and all be filled with such love and joy this holiday season and throughout the coming year.