It's Christmas Eve and the cookies baked, the casseroles prepared, the house scrubbed from top to bottom. Presents wrapped and under the tree, and the stockings await on the mantle.
As I sit gazing at the tree, I reflect on Christmas past- my own childhood memories and memories of creating a special Christmas for my little ones.
As a kid I enjoyed helping Dad put the lights on the tree. That was our job. Mom swooped in when the lights were up and placed the ornaments with a unique flair. She loved creating a "theme tree."
The countdown to Christmas Eve began with our Advent Calendar. We took turns opening a new window each day. We also pulled a ring off our homemade Christmas chain that hung by the front door. Mary and Joseph one strategic inch closer each day to reach their destination- the manger where shepherds stood waiting and the angel gazed down from her lofty perch on top of the manger.
When Christmas Eve finally arrived we placed our messily decorated Christmas cookies and eggnog on the table for Santa. One lucky child was given the honor of placing the baby Jesus in the manger.The main event of the evening was standing next to Dad while he stapled our stockings to the wooden banister, six stockings in a row.
We would squint under the glare of the movie camera flood lights and wave excitedly or blow kisses at the camera as we may our way to bed. We whispered excitedly in the dark and listened for Santa, but heard only the sounds of Christmas carols playing softly on the stereo, and our parents glasses clinking as they celebrated with neighbors and family.
My parents took care to create and maintain the joy of Santa for each of us, for as long as we chose to believe. I did the same for my own children. The joy filled memories I had as a child gave me many wonderful traditions to share with my kids. New traditions were added to those I shared from childhood.
A special key would be hung on the front doorknob because we lived in a house with no chimney for Santa to come down. My kids liked to leave a snack for both Santa and the reindeer. Pieces of carrot were found in the front yard and sidewalk Christmas morning. My excited children always looked for evidence that the reindeer enjoyed their treat. A note hastily written on a napkin and signed by S. Claus thanked them for the delicious cookies and eggnog.
Stockings were hung from a mantel or shelf, and stuffed with wee wrapped packages. My boys loved opening their stockings first before ever getting to the big presents under the tree.
The magic of Santa has finally left all three kids, but the memories remain. We must create new traditions now that they are teens, but I know that one day, each of them will throw carrot pieces on the lawn and leave notes and footprints for their own children to find.
May we never forget the magic and may our memories of Christmases past warm us always.
Causes Annette Talbert Supports
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, RIF (Reading is Fundamental),
Hands On Foundation, Dignity U Wear, Girls, Inc.