The beginning line of Clement Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas always makes me think of elementary school Christmas programs. My brief stint on stage (in 3rd or 4th grade) was to recite that poem. How proud I was to learn all the lines and, even today, can probably get through it without a hitch. What a wonderful tale it is with vivid images that stick in our minds.
Christmas Eve at our house when my children were growing up was one of chaos as Hubs and I frantically wrapped last minutes gifts (always one more thing) and I was strung out from trying to do too many things at the last minute. Oh wait, I didn’t make [insert name of cookie] or I forgot a gift for so-and-so. There was always a good (in my mind) reason for not doing things ahead of time. Hubs was so patient—still is.
With age comes common sense. Or so they say. I’ve learned that the world doesn’t come to an end if I don’t make Christmas cookies. Now if it had ended last Friday, I guess it would’ve been my fault. Our cards usually arrive at our family and friends after Christmas. Oh, well. They’ll be more relaxed and can enjoy our newsy letter. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
My father-in-law was like a child on this day. When he and my mother-in-law came for a visit for the holidays, he insisted we open one gift on Christmas Eve. He couldn’t stand waiting until morning. Of course, the kids were delighted. So we got into the tradition of opening one gift that evening. Now with going to our own children’s home for Christmas Hubs and I open our gifts ahead of time. He still manages to surprise me and I him with some little gift. After forty years of trying and sometimes failing to find the right gift, he takes me shopping so I can pick out mine and I do the same for him. Then we act silly while unwrapping the Keurig or new tackle box and say “oh my goodness, just what I wanted”. We’ll have more fun when we watch the grandkiddies open their gifts—especially the ones Papa made in his workshop.
The gifts, cookies, tree trimming, cards are various traditions that come and go. But the real reason for this holiday never changes. The hope and joy brought to the world with the birth of our savior. Everything else is extraneous.
I wish you and your families that same hope and joy. And, most of all, peace.