When I was young, we lived in a (to me then) big two story house in Omaha, Nebraska. I remember Christmas there as being a very magical thing. My mother would always paint decorations on our big picture window, and although our house wasn't the most decorated outside, inside it always felt like Christmas. The tree would be brought in (and start to shed pine needles almost immediately), and the smell of pine would permeate through the house. All of the kids helped decorate, including hanging the handmade Christmas stockings--each one unique to the child it belonged to. Then we would wait anxiously as the presents began to trickle under the tree, one or two at a time. Soon the tension of Christmas to come was almost more than a child of 5 or 6 could bear. Christmas Eve would find us all gathered around the tree for a family talent show, with each child , or two, sharing some (to them) inspired portion of the little program. Dad usually went last, and often finished the night by playing Christmas songs on his Harmonica. The children were then bustled off to bed (much too early, but the sooner you fall asleep, the sooner Santa can come and deliver his much awaited load), and whisper in the dark for what seemd like hours, before they finally drifted off to sleep. Then in the wee hours of the morning, one of us children would awake, and quietly sneak around to all of the bedrooms, waking each of the others, asking , "Is it morning yet? Can we go down?". We knew the time was right when Dad would stagger-- half asleep himself--to the bottom of the stairs, and call us all down to line up in the hallway, youngest to oldest. Oh the torture of waiting for everyone to get in line! When all were ready, we would enter the front room, like pilgrims entering a sacred shrine. Squeals of joy, and cries of delight would ring through the room as each child found his special gift from Santa.
As my children grow older, we are starting to get away from this scene at my own home today. We can't stop them from growing older, but maybe we can try to instill in them some of the magic that we shared in those Christmas mornings from our youth. Merry Christmas.