Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa Was Here — by Margaret Hart

Santa definitely made it to our house this Christmas, and thank goodness my son was on the jolly old man's "nice" list.  On Christmas morning, most of the items on the Christmas list were under the tree, with a few exceptions.  Santa had taken a bite out of one of the candy cane sugar cookies left on a plate for him on a table next to the sofa. The stockings were filled with odds and ends, and the tree was still standing (after having fallen twice, breaking some of my most favorite ornaments!). So all in all, Christmas was a success for a certain seven-year-old. 
But it was a success for many more reasons that my son is still too young to fully appreciate. He, and my husband and I, got to spend five days together with my parents and my younger sister.  My parents are in their 70s now, and thankfully still in good health.  But as I get older, they get older.  Over the years, as I have matured, I have understood  more than ever the blessings of family and have appreciated them so much more than I did when I was younger. I have made it a priority to spend as much time with them and to share as many milestones with them as possible—especially since my son was born.
We all couldn't wait for my family to arrive. I had rushed around for weeks, stressing out, getting everything ready.  I was still preparing just a few hours before they arrived. But when they walked in the door, I finally sat down, and felt a sense of calm.  My husband took several days off from work, and my son was off from school, so we had the chance to spend some real quality time together.
Like many families celebrating the holidays, ours involved a lot of food, special treats, and traditions. We started off celebrating my sister's birthday.  She loves the singer Lady Gaga, so I had fun cupcakes made for her by a friend of mine who owns a bakery. Take a look.  They were a huge hit.  

Every Christmas we also have a tradition of going out for a family dinner to celebrate several occasions:  my sister's birthday (December 22), my parents anniversary (December 26) and my birthday (January 11). When my son was born, we added his birthday to the list (December 2).  I also cooked special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, and made our family Trifle for dessert. My mother is Scottish, and so is the recipe for Trifle.
This Christmas we started a new tradition of dining on china passed down from my husband's great, great grandmother. He told us stories of eating holiday meals on the china at his grandmother's house when he was a small boy. It was an emotional day for him because he inherited the china from his parents, both of whom passed away recently.
As one day turned into the next, and I could finally see the back of my refrigerator, I realized the visit was coming to a close.  On the last afternoon, as my son sat on the sofa next to my father— a seven-year-old teaching a 76-year-old how to play Super Mario Brothers Wii—I saw pure joy on both of their faces.  I looked at them and I knew that this Christmas had been a huge success. 
It didn't matter that I hadn't baked a gazillion cookies.  It was okay that Santa didn't bring everything on the list. (My son never complained.)  What mattered was that we were spending time together, that my son was getting the chance to enjoy his grandparents, and that we were making memories.  In that moment, all the stress of the season just melted away. And I wished that I could freeze that moment in time. I hope that one day my son will talk about this holiday with fond memories, and that he will remember not only the gifts that he received, but also the funny, joyful and memorable experiences with his family. 
May the New Year bring all good things to you and your families.

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