Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Childlike Christmas #2: Magic

My younger brother and I used to sit in front of a lit Christmas tree in a darkened room and tell each other stories about Santa Claus and Christmases past. We were transported from our living room to some place larger, grander. When we were really little and talked about what would happen on Christmas Eve--Santa landing on the our roof and bringing presents through our sliding glass door (we didn't have a fireplace)--we would get all shivery and exited. Magic was about to happen in our very own house!

What I loved at Christmastime: how pink the sky got around 4:30 on the shortest days of the year. Driving through other people's neighborhoods to look at the lights. The smell of banana nut bread, my mother's traditional Christmas gift to our neighbors, baking in the oven on the day before Christmas Eve, what my brothers and I called Christmas Eve-eve.

I loved the holiness of Christmas, which is what people are really talking about when they talk about the magic of Christmas. I loved running my fingers over the ceramic figurines of the manger scene my mother set out every year, lightly touching the folds in Mary's violet-blue dress. I loved lighting our Advent wreath on Sundays, each Sunday a new candle adding its glow to the table.

I loved when my father put Christmas tapes on his reel-to-reel player. Did you have a reel-to-reel tape player when you were little? Do you remember the smell when the motor heated up? And the loud click of the buttons as the reels were set into motion? Those were Christmas sounds and smells to me, just as much as the smell of the tree and Christmas cookies baking.

Mostly I loved sitting in front of the tree and dreaming, all the lamps turned off. It's still my favorite part of Christmas, and I think that's why I'm always a little sad after all the presents are opened on Christmas morning. Ah, the possibilities that exist in a wrapped present! That's a wonderful moment, isn't it--the moment you lift the package toward yourself, test its weight in your hands? The moment right before you open it, and everything is possible?


Gumbo Lily said...

The imaginings and the possibilities -- good childlike stuff -- even for grown-ups. We didn't have a reel to reel at our house, but friends did. What fun home movies were!

Thanks for the memories.

Pom Pom said...

That's why the Lord of ALL gave you boys. I can just picture you and your brother telling stories. You are such an amazing story teller, Frances.
I can also smell the banana nut bread. Mmmmmmm.
I second Gumbo Lily - thanks for the memories.

Amanda said...

Ah, these are lovely memories. I also love to sit in front of the tree, just to gaze on its magical loveliness, after everyone else has gone to bed.

wayside wanderer said...

Oh, we were tree dreamers, too. Still are. I enjoyed reading your memories.

Tracy said...

My most memorable Christmases were spent in a 3rd world tropical country. Our Christmas tree was a fallen coconut palm frond stuck in a bucket & decorated. My most memorable gift was a bottle of apple-scented shampoo. I eeked that out to make it last as long as possible. That, and 'Elizabeth Gail' books that my parents would have mailed to us from Australia.

Danielle said...

My favorite moments also include the selection, decoration and enjoyment of the Christmas tree and the possibilities in a wrapped present... even better when it's a beautifully wrapped gift.

A fond memory for me is that on Christmas Eve, my sister and I would sleep together. We would stay up late, whispering secrets and straining to hear Santa or reindeer hoofs. Even as teens we kept the tradition up. It was Christmas magic because we are so different we never really got along. But every Christmas Eve and Day, we were sisters.

Carolyn Phillips said...

I think my favourite Christmas memories are stories - or if not then I see them as stories.

The dB family said...

We borrowed a real to real player from the library when I was a child. Most memorable movie we watched on it was Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. I do remember the sounds and the smells. You've brought back such fond memories. I love studying our tree in it's lighted glory. I still do and I leave it lit all day too so I can admire it as I walk by with a load of laundry or to referee children.