Day 110, Living life on my terms.
Today I was thinking about how the true magic of Christmas can be seen in the face of a child. All of the wonder, all of the hope, all of the joy, all of the excitement, and all of the anticipation is painted in their expression and accented by their smile. They don’t question or worry about anything because they simply believe. Do you remember, and I mean really remember, how that felt?
The first time that I recall actually sitting on Santa’s lap I was four years old. Santa was set up in a section of the building connected to the old Fun and Food Barn. Actually, it was more of an old livestock stall from when it was part of a functioning farm, but it was all decorated and Santa occupied his throne in the corner.
As for me, I was a typical four year old; absolutely terrified! I didn’t want to sit on his lap because I was scared that he might think I wasn’t a good boy. I finally gave in and sat on the edge of his knee, thinking I could escape if the need were to arise. My mother and sisters stood just outside the stall and tried to whisper things I wanted to tell Santa.
I remember spurting out the one thing that I really wanted; Lincoln Logs. I don’t remember anything that was said or how it was said, but I know I wanted those Lincoln Logs at all costs. I wanted to be able to build log homes like in the old west or on Grizzly Adams. Santa let out his signature laugh and gave me a candy cane before sending me on my way. I had survived the visit. Of course, when I told my friends about the experience, I described myself as being much braver.
On Christmas Eve, my father would take me with him and my Uncle Frank to Christmas Mass at the Catholic Church. I was too young to understand all of the catholic traditions and I could barely recite the Lord’s Prayer, but I loved going to church with them. I always liked the music and I really looked forward to the part where we shook hands with those around us saying; “peace be with you.” Once I started taking catechism classes, I started to understand that the real reason of the season was not Santa Claus; it was something much more important.
It was then that my father explained to me that the reason Santa delivers on Christmas Eve is because it is the holiest night of the year when everyone in the world is filled with loved in their hearts and souls. Without that, Santa wouldn’t exist. It is something that I have remembered all of these years, maybe the most honest and sincere thing my dad ever told me.
When we got home from church, Mom would cook up some of her fresh, homemade pierogis. I am sorry that I talk about them all of the time, but they were so good. She never made them as often as I would have wanted, but they were always there for Christmas Eve.
My parents would let me stay up to watch some of the Christmas shows but by nine o’clock, they would start with the; “I hope Santa doesn’t pass by our house because the kids are still awake.” It is amazing to me how effective that phrase was for making us kids go upstairs to bed.
My bed was against the wall right next to a window and I would lay the opposite way so that I could look out at the night sky and landscape. One year, when I was four or five, it was a little warmer so I wrapped myself in my blankets and opened the window. I laid my pillow across the sill and scanned the night sky in search of Santa’s sleigh.
Snow was just lightly falling that night, but the ground was completely covered from earlier storms. I could see the lights from other houses and a soft glow from the direction of town. The radio tower had a red blinking light on the top of the hill that I kept thinking might be Rudolph. Before I knew what was happening, I was asleep and dreaming as the crisp night air kissed my face. I was a picture of contentment; filled with eagerness for the sun to rise and the morning to come.
When the morning came, all of us kids rushed downstairs to see if Santa made it to our house. There were packages spilling out to the middle of the living room floor; a sure sign that he had been there.
We were about half way through the pile when my mother instructed my brother Joe to hand me the present that was buried in the corner by the television. It was a large, cylindrical shaped package that sort of looked like a drum. The wrapping was no match for my hands as they tore through to discover that Santa brought my Lincoln Logs.
My Christmas wish had come true. My father sat in his rocking chair with left leg draped over the right leg, rocking back and forth with a smile as he watched all of his children opening the presents. Mom, who was already adorned with flour from getting up early to start cooking, sat on the couch satisfied that her kids had the best Christmas possible; and do you want to know something? We did.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same kind of feeling today as adults?
Today I dedicate my progress to the Christmas Spirit and the baby who was born in a stable so many years ago for he is the real reason for the season. Furthermore, I would like to wish all of my readers the same kind of joy and happiness they remember having as kids. Lastly, for the children, may all of your wishes come true and don’t ever stop believing in the magic of Christmas.