It’s still dark out. There are no hooves clacking on the roof, no “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas” echoing through the air. But there is something magical about this morning none-the-less. The sun will start to rise in another hour or so. By then, my nephews will either get up or we will wake them. But for now, I sit quietly, alone in the living room, looking at the colored Christmas tree lights reflected in the glass.
A million memories swirl in my brain. They focus around a Christmas tree and rotate by like a slow moving carousel, colorful and full of laughing children. There is me and my brother, rushing into the living room of long ago, mouths wide open, amazed at the fancy packages under the tree. Wrapping paper flies as we tear into that moment of hope and expectation. We are absolutely convinced that what lies below the paper will fulfill our wildest dreams.
As my carousel of memories continues to rotate, our faces fade as my nephews move into the prominent place on the carousel. Their eyes amazed, their teeth gleaming as their mouths gape in smiles that couldn’t possibly stretch any wider. They, too, attack the packages before them. Once more, wrapping paper flies through the air. And the carousel rotates again.
Now, I see our parents pretending to love the silly dime store gifts we picked out for them and paid for by saving our allowance. I see their eyes shining with emotion–a detail I missed when I was a child.
Next, our Grandparents smile nervously and watch us intently while we open gifts. They strain with their desire to see how happy we are with what they so carefully chose for us.
As the carousel begins another pass, I see our parents again, but now watching my nephews instead of us. They smile wider and their eyes have a little more twinkle as they open homemade gifts from their grandchildren.
I have few memories of what any of the gifts were, either received or given. What stays in my mind is that shared moment when a group of people lean forward with barely contained anticipation. In that single moment, before the first gift is unwrapped, we all share in the possibility that our love for one another will transcend any disappointments, any difficulties, any trials or tribulations and we will achieve the perfect manifestation of love through the act of giving.
That is the moment I look forward to every Christmas. When people ask why can’t Christmas last all year, this is the moment I imagine hanging onto year round. That perfect moment that is absent of disappointment, history, baggage, judgment. That perfect moment when the excitement that we might be able to amaze and delight those we love electrifies the air.
When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness. ~Bob Hope