Christmas traditions from me to you
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.”