My family doesn’t have many traditions for Christmas. We haven’t spent the holidays with extended family since I was a very little girl. But each year, we would watch the The Muppet Christmas Carol, and we would listen to The Muppets and John Denver, and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers Christmas albums. When the tree was decorated and we shut off the lights to see it for the first time, we would all sing O Christmas Tree and sway like Whos in Whoville. Of course, the only words we knew were “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,” so we would just sing those over and over again.
We ate blueberry muffins my mother made fresh in the morning and took turns passing out presents while wearing the Santa hat.
But I think my very favorite tradition was sneaking down the stairs to see if Santa had come. I would pounce on my sister’s head to wake her up and make her come down to the tree with me. Once I saw Santa had, in fact, already been to the house, I wanted to wake my parents up right away. It was 3:30 in the morning. Why wouldn’t they want to wake up?
My sister with her years of wisdom said, “No, we can’t go wake up our parents.” Instead, she would entertain me for hours, reading every Christmas book we had. Christmas on Exeter Street, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Twelve Letters of Thanks. She would read and read until she deemed it safe to wake our parents. Then, very carefully, we would sneak into my parents’ room. We would silently fight over who had to wake our parents. She would inevitably agree to wake my father since he was crabby when you forced him out of bed. She would sneak carefully to his side while I charged at my mother screaming, “It’s Christmas!” while I jumped on her head.
And then, it was time for Christmas morning with stockings, hot tea, and muffins. I would wonder at the presents from Santa and how he knew so much about what I wanted that year. The lights were sparkling on the tree. We were all together, and it was perfect.
Things have changed a lot. I haven’t been home for Christmas in a few years. I’m all grown up and wouldn’t get up for anything at 3:30 in the morning. My little family is spread to the wind, and Christmas presents are delivered by the mailman instead of by Santa Clause. But the glow of Christmas lights still enthralls me. I still read the books every year and find a way to eat fresh blueberry muffins. And somehow, the magic of Christmas never leaves.
So Merry Christmas to all, wherever you are. And God bless us, everyone!