I remember the last time I was the person in the house who was most excited about Christmas.
My oldest son was about two weeks away from turning 3. My husband and I woke at 6 a.m. Christmas Day, tiptoed into his room, and whispered, “It’s Christmas, Buddy! Let’s go see if Santa came!”
He rolled over and said, “No, he didn’t come yet. Let’s sleep some more.”
Famous last words, as they say.
I remember the Christmases of my childhood beginning somewhere around 4:30 or 5 a.m., my brother and I tiptoeing into the living room, holding our breath, quivering with excitement.
I remember the way the lights of the Christmas tree glinted off the wrapping paper in the otherwise dark room, how the air had that clear, still, middle-of-the-night feeling, that feeling that makes you whisper even when you’re not sure why.
We weren’t allowed to wake up our parents, nor could we unwrap our gifts before they woke up – the agony of waiting, the brightly wrapped packages right there!
Luckily, Santa always left a couple of unwrapped gifts to tide us over, and we were allowed to empty our stockings. Those were mostly filled with fruit, but there was usually a toy or two in there as well.
The fruit came in handy; I also remember being ravenous as the hours ticked by before breakfast. Most years we got up that early, we couldn’t have cereal because we were too little to pour the milk. I remember the year my brother – one year older than me – was finally able to work the toaster. We had eaten almost an entire loaf of bread by the time my parents got up.
We would paw through the gifts under the tree, gently squeezing and shaking them to see if they had the telltale softness of clothes (lame) or if they were hard boxes with an enticing rattle.
Eventually, we would get bored enough to turn on the TV, but in those days there were no 24-hour cartoon channels. I’m not sure what we watched, though we still laugh about the year we watched Dolly Parton in “A Rocky Mountain Christmas” over and over again, because some basic cable station was playing it on a loop.
My own son continued sleeping until daylight hours on Christmas morning until two years ago. By then, I was used to getting him up, so I was surprised on Christmas Day to find him standing by my bed whispering – still the whisper! – urgently. Santa had come, he informed me – and he had already opened all his presents.
To his credit, he did read the tags and left alone the gifts for his baby brother.
I have to admit, as hard as I found waiting, it’s even harder for him than it was for me growing up. His dad works midnight shifts, so he not only has to wait for Mom to get up, but also for Papa to come home before he’s allowed to unwrap his gifts. That’s a lot of patience to ask of a kid whose anticipation has been building for weeks.
If you celebrate Christmas, all of us at The MidWeek wish you and yours a very merry one. If you don’t celebrate the holiday, we wish you a truly happy day.
And in either event, we thank you for spending 2013 with us, and we wish you a Happy New Year.
See you next year. Enjoy your MidWeek.