It is two days before Christmas and my head is filled with many random thoughts. I was thinking about the live trees that everyone used to have back when I was a child. They were so much fun but invariably half of my family would be ill by Christmas Eve. Little did we realize that we were actually allergic to the lovely natural aroma of pine or fir that filled the air. Once the artificial varieties became available there was no turning back for us. We finally found out what it was like to feel good for the holidays.
In an effort to reproduce the feeling of my childhood days I purchased a scented wax chunk in Colorado when I visited there in the fall. I thought it might be fun to have the illusion of having a real tree with the essence of pine wafting through the air. I decided to burn it this past weekend and within about thirty minutes my head was aching and my throat had begun to close. My nose was running and my eyes were watering. I suppose that I’m just not going to create a forest-like atmosphere in my home ever again. It was sad to realize that my body won’t tolerate that wonderful smell of a Christmas forest.
During the brief moments when my house felt more like my younger days I began to reminisce. I suspect that there is always that one special Christmas gift that remains magical even sixty years later. For me it was finding a bicycle in front of the Christmas tree when I was seven years old. Santa got everything right about that bike from the basket mounted on the handlebars to the color. It was love at first sight and I could hardly wait to change out of my pajamas and get outside to give it a test drive. I felt very grown up because it didn’t come with training wheels. Santa assumed that I would be able to learn how to balance and pedal without any problems. It made me happy that he had so much confidence in me.
My father was my official coach. He held the bicycle up while I climbed on and ran along beside me until I had picked up enough speed to stay upright. The first few times I crashed almost immediately and even skinned my knee. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to master the art of riding but I was too embarrassed to admit defeat so I kept climbing right back onto the seat and trying again and again. Daddy encouraged me and gave me tips about how to improve. Just when I thought that I was never going to overcome my cycling inadequacies my father let go and I kept going. I even turned around and headed back to him. I suspect that I had one of the biggest grins of my lifetime. I can’t remember another time that I felt so proud of my accomplishments.
That bike would become my constant companion. It took me on adventures and saved me from boredom. I eventually learned how to perform tricks like standing on the seat while holding one leg in the air or letting go of the handlebars while still moving forward. I’m not sure what ultimately became of it. I suppose that I simply outgrew it one day and my mother no doubt sent it to wherever old bikes go.
There really is nothing quite like those childhood days when Santa comes in the middle of the night while children sleep. It is so breathtaking to find the wondrous toys waiting in the morning. I can still see the roller skates and the dolls in the glow of the multi-colored lights. I envision the oranges and nuts that were invariably hiding inside my stocking. There is a part of my brain that will stay forever young with those magical images of Christmases past.
Santa still visits our house. My grandchildren come to stay with me from San Antonio and somehow Old St. Nick manages to find them. They are growing older so he may soon quit coming just as he does with all of us once we are no longer children but we never forget how wonderful he made us feel and we vicariously enjoy his magic in the eyes of the young. It will be sad when my grandchildren too have outgrown him.
I’ve worked hard for the past several weeks preparing a feast for my extended family that I will serve on Christmas Day. I am expecting around thirty two adults and kids to join us this year. It is a riotous time filled with laughter and lots of love. There will be children running up and down the hallways and adults hugging and catching up on all that has happened since last we saw one another. We’ll devour mountains of food and by the end of the evening the house will resemble the Griswold’s home in Christmas Vacation after a squirrel runs amuck.
I always sit in the light of the tree on Christmas night wondering how the celebrations went by so quickly. I’ll think of how fortunate I have been throughout my lifetime. I’ll remember all of the people and the traditions that I have enjoyed over the years and I know I will feel quite content. Somehow the spirit of Christmas finds its way into my heart over and over again regardless of what may have happened in the months that came before.
Merry Christmas to everyone. May this holiday find you feeling that magic of the season and sharing love with those who mean the most to you. I hope that Santa is as good to you as he always seems to be to me.