Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Magic 

As with many children, my brother and I always looked forward to Christmas. Church was always special because of the music and decorations. But, our home also was special. Our parents went out of their way to keep Christmas as magical as possible, at least until we were older. Our dad worked for the USPS and at that time, put in an incredibly long day on December 24. He would arrive home late, often after my brother and I had been put to bed.

We would awake Christmas morning (always early) and go downstairs to see a Christmas tree, lights, the cardboard-house village underneath the tree, the Manger creche and presents. Then it was a burst into our parents' room, "Wake up, wake up! Santa came last night." My poor dad had to drag himself out of bed, probably with less than 3-4 hours sleep.

My parents kept the magic alive for a number of years. After gaining a bit of maturity and realizing that Santa Claus hadn't decorated the tree on December 24/25, I finally asked them where they had kept the Christmas tree? See, neither my brother nor I had ever found it. It just appeared on Christmas Day.

What they had done was buy the tree, then they stuck it in the neighbor's back yard among other trees. After Dad came home from work on Christmas Eve, they rearranged the living room furniture, hauled in the tree and decorated it, during the night. My brother and I were never the wiser.

Today, and when I was a single parent, the tree is decorated before Christmas. We have a different ritual where we decorate the tree, have great finger food, and play Christmas carols. This year, as last, our son is deployed overseas but we kept the ritual alive. When he returns next Christmas, we'll do it again.

Rituals and magic are important. I was lucky as a kid to have parents who understood all the beauty of Christmas. Today, as we recall memories and celebrate Christmas in all its manifestations, let's remember the real reason for the holiday - a gift of life for all.

Merry Christmas to our readers.