Christ­mas tra­di­tions from me to you

The Covington News - - Local news - T. Pat Ca­vanaugh Gen­eral Man­ager

I have al­ways loved Christ­mas and its tra­di­tions; even as I have grown older, I find that re­ally deep in my heart I still be­lieve in Santa Claus and the spirit of the whole sea­son, and I just can’t wait un­til I see the “Frosty the Snow­man” and “Ru­dolph the Red Nose Rein­deer” re-runs at this time of year.

Two years ago Molly and I broke with tra­di­tions. We saw the most beau­ti­ful ar­ti­fi­cial tree. It was filled with 1,000 twin­kling lights and even had pine cones. I swear it even smelled real. I re­mem­ber our $100 tree dy­ing a week be­fore Christ­mas the year be­fore, so we talked our­selves into buy­ing the — yes, it’s even hard to say — ar­ti­fi­cial tree. My daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter didn’t talk to us at first, but they did again when they started see­ing their presents pile up un­der our new tree. Soon our tree with its 1,000 lights and spe­cial other dec­o­ra­tions will be lighting up the dark Ge­or­gia sky through my front liv­ing room win­dow and all will be well ex­cept this year Santa Claus will be vis­it­ing my lit­tle kiddo’s in Ari­zona in­stead of at Grandma and Poppa’s.

I some­times, af­ter a few tod­dies, think of the many Christ­mas tra­di­tions that were part of my life — I hope you don’t me shar­ing a few.

For in­stance, our tree didn’t go up un­til Christ­mas Eve. Now that I look back, I think that tra­di­tion started be­cause the trees were cheaper on Christ­mas Eve.

When my dad brought the tree home, usu­ally in the evening, the ex­cite­ment was al­most too much to bear.

The du­ties of the day in­cluded go­ing down to the wa­ter and gath­er­ing a wet bucket of sand for the tree, and then my brother and sis­ters and I would dec­o­rate it.

I know we didn’t al­ways do it to the right spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and the truth of the mat­ter is I still don’t, but we knew then and I know now that Santa would straighten things out. He al­ways did and still does.

We then would leave Santa some home-baked good­ies. It’s funny. I never thought about it, but the good­ies al­ways turned out to be my fa­ther’s fa­vorites.

Off we would go to bed. I never could go to sleep it seemed, but some­how I would drift off for a cou­ple of hours, and I would al­ways wake about 2 a.m. The house would be pitch black, but I could smell the toys — such smells. You can’t smell the toys any­more, what a shame be­cause the smells of a new bike or a wagon or Davy Crock­ett gun are for­ever etched in my mind.

The fact that Santa al­ways came when I was in my short fit­ful sleep just made him seem even more real.

We had a rule at our house — we could not get up un­til 6 a.m. The four-hour wait to see my toys and gifts was al­most un­bear­able.

One year I couldn’t stand it. I set all the clocks ahead one hour and woke ev­ery­body up at what turned out to be 5 a.m.

I can still hear my par­ents talk­ing to each other about how dark it was out­side.

Soon it was time for us to go to morn­ing mass, and for the first time that I could re­mem­ber, we did not have to stand up for the en­tire mass be­cause of the Christ­mas crowd. We were there a full hour be­fore ev­ery­body else, in­clud­ing the priest.

My par­ents fi­nally had to tell me at the age of 13 that there was no Santa Claus, and they gave me the old “he is a spirit” speech. Of course, I knew Santa was re­ally a spirit. That’s why he knew what I wanted ev­ery Christ­mas, and how he knew to come to my house when I was asleep. What a smart spirit.

I think I was told be­cause I was start­ing to be­come an em­bar­rass­ment to my par­ents, since I was the only kid in eighth grade at St. Mary’s that still be­lieved there was a Santa and still wrote him on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The fol­low­ing spring, when my par­ents had to tell me there was no Easter Bunny, they prob­a­bly started think­ing I might need some help in deal­ing with re­al­ity. In fact, I prob­a­bly still at times have that same prob­lem, as some of you can at­test to.

Later, when I had my own fam­ily, we con­tin­ued my Christ­mas tra­di­tions. To this day the kids still feel Christ­mas is not Christ­mas un­less they are with us and see­ing my grand­daugh­ters with that sparkle in their eyes af­ter Santa has come, brings tears of joy to my eyes and makes my heart skip a beat. I have two grand­daugh­ters and one grand­son on the way, the three best presents a Poppa could ever wish for.

I had one tra­di­tion that al­ways made my sea­son. I called my niece, Tay­lor, ev­ery Christ­mas Eve no mat­ter where I was, in­clud­ing out of the coun­try, and pre­tended I was Santa. The year I was out of the “coun­try,” I was in Mex­ico. I al­most didn’t get through, but the true spirit of Christ­mas pre­vailed. I fi­nally had to tell her at age 13 that Santa re­ally was her un­cle. It broke her heart and mine too.

I hope you and your fam­i­lies have a great Christ­mas, and no mat­ter where you are, give every­one a great big hug and kiss for me.

My new tra­di­tion is en­joy­ing my tra­di­tions in Ge­or­gia.

Merry Christ­mas and thanks for read­ing my Blar­ney. Here is a lit­tle toast for you: “May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door and hap­pi­ness be guided to your home by the can­dle of Christ­mas.”

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