Wait­ing for Him

Pasatiempo - - Essays - by Ali­cia San­doval

Ev­ery year I would count the days un­til Christ­mas, but I al­ways started over ev­ery Mon­day be­cause I would for­get where I left off.

The day be­fore Christ­mas, my mom and I would spend the whole day bak­ing cook­ies and get­ting ready for the party we had ev­ery year. The smell of cook­ies filled the house with hap­pi­ness ev­ery night be­fore Christ­mas. For some rea­son, my mom would al­ways open the win­dows, try­ing to get rid of the scent. But no mat­ter what we did, the smell al­ways came back. I was full of joy be­cause the aroma never left.

A lot of my fam­ily came to the party and it was fun, but not as fun as wait­ing for Santa Claus. I would play with my lit­tle cousin. We would al­ways try to peek at the presents, but we would al­ways get caught. What I liked about the party was get­ting a new dress and fancy shoes. Year af­ter year, I would wait for the party to end be­cause when it ended, it was bed­time, the most ex­cit­ing part of the day! Es­pe­cially on Christ­mas Eve. Af­ter the last guest left, I would run to my dresser and get out my green mamelu­cos stamped with candy canes and put them on as fast as I could. When my feet were cov­ered by the foot­sies of my mamelu­cos, I needed to be care­ful when I ran, be­cause of many ex­per­i­ments run­ning across the floor and fall­ing.

“ Por fa­vor, mami, ya va a lle­gar Santa Claus! Tienes que hacer la cama,” I would plead, ask­ing her to make my bed or else Santa Claus wouldn’t come un­til I fell asleep. My mom turned the con­vert­ible couch into a bed and threw my pink princess

blan­ket and my fa­vorite pil­low on it. While my mom was try­ing to make the bed, she looked up with an an­gry look, but she didn’t get mad. This hap­pened once a year— well, maybe twice. I ran alone to the kitchen and brought Santa’s cook­ies. I tried not to eat those de­li­cious-looking chocolate-chip cook­ies that smelled so good. I thought, I won­der if Santa likes my cook­ies?

I ran back to the liv­ing room that was fairly dark, with only one lamp that was by my bed/couch. My mom turned on the heater while she said, “ Que sueñes con los an­geli­tos y si nece­si­tas algo, me echas un grito.” I don’t re­mem­ber a night when my mom didn’t say, “Dream with the lit­tle angels.”

The heater made a loud noise and gave off a burn­ing dust smell. I wanted to eat Santa’s cook­ies, but I thought that if I ate them, Santa might get mad at me. And if he did, he wouldn’t bring me presents. Star­ing at the cook­ies, I fell asleep and dreamed of the presents I would be open­ing the next morn­ing.

I would try to keep my eyes wide open, but year af­ter year, I would fall asleep. On Christ­mas morn­ing, I would wake up at 6 a.m. think­ing, Yea! Christ­mas! And I would go wake up my mom, who slept in her king-sized bed. I re­mem­ber it had blue sheets and green cov­ers. I couldn’t open my presents without mak­ing my mom jeal­ous, be­cause I was lit­tle and I could still get presents from Santa.

Ev­ery present was spe­cial; open­ing presents was a very im­por­tant cer­e­mony. I don’t know how, but I man­aged not to rip any of the wrap­ping pa­per; it was very nerve-rack­ing. That was the only time of the year that I was very pa­tient. I would save ev­ery sheet of wrap­ping pa­per to re­mem­ber that Christ­mas and Santa Claus were worth wait­ing for and that I had to be nice the whole year to de­serve presents.

Christ­mas morn­ing wouldn’t be the same without a spe­cial break­fast. My mom would make me chi­laquiles, which are a de­li­cious tra­di­tional Mex­i­can dish. They would take a lit­tle over an hour to pre­pare, and for that whole hour I would stare at the oven want­ing to eat them so badly. Fi­nally, the chi­laquiles were done, and we would have break­fast. Af­ter break­fast, I would go up­stairs to make sure that there weren’t any more presents for me un­der my grandma’s Christ­mas tree. Some­times there were, and some­times there weren’t any— that was dis­ap­point­ing. I would wake up my grandma and my aun­tie, so they could have break­fast and get ready to take me to a mer­cado. I loved to go to the mer­cado, be­cause it sold all kinds of food, clothes, and toys. When we went to the mer­cado, there wasn’t any snow, but the cold air was al­ways there. They would buy me a Christ­mas present and in­vite me to al­muerzo or lunch at the restau­rant Que­sadil­las Ali­cia.

I loved and still love Christ­mas. It’s a hol­i­day that re­minds peo­ple that giv­ing is bet­ter than tak­ing. Over the years it has changed, but it is still my very fa­vorite hol­i­day.

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