Martha Thinks

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All in one Night

This was the night for the Christmas card photo. Ah, it's always a lovely time, it is. Especially when mom makes you put on matching t-shirts and you are a teenaged boy. Oh, so what. The way I see it, I get to "dress" them on Easter, Thanksgiving and for the Christmas card. The rest of the time they are pretty much in control.

Then Ronan and I and as the rest of the gang came in from the dog park and pulled themselves away from the computer, all watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The pretty fire was lit and I made some hot chocolate and for one brief half hour there was peace in the land.

Oh the room is WAY too small & all I've done in 5 years is reconfigure furniture. A small upright piano is in the room while our magnificent baby grand that we inherited enjoys a place of honor in my mother's much bigger living room. But we have this fireplace. And on a night like tonight, it's worth all the tea in China.

So what is it about this story that moves those of us who were 8 years old in 1968, or thereabouts? This 20 minutes of magic? From the skaters and the first few notes of "Christmas Time Is Here, Happiness and cheer, Fun for all, That children call, Their favorite time of year." Was it held so precious because it was only to be seen once a year? That it ushered in Christmas?! Is it all of the snow? Boy, I remember snow. Maybe it was the colors. The crazy bright and beautiful colors from this show and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Is it that there were no extras, no trips to the toy store, no IPODs, computers, DVDs? That there were only 3 television stations? (oh, sorry I forgot about Channel 2 and 38) There was boredom, sure, but imagination, too. I remember Christmas was a bright and glorious season of church fairs, school concerts and Camp Fire Girls holding those little grey and white pamphlets singing carols in front of the elderly housing. It was foil wrapped chocolate with pictures of Santa. It was pretty tablecloths and candles. And the suspense. You could have truly bottled it.

It was the Children's Mass on Christmas Eve and then hearing the NORAD (North American Air Defense - report on the television telling the kids where in the world Santa's sleigh was at 7 o'clock our time. Our how could we sleep knowing Santa was in France right now????

It was tired parents who stayed up late putting things together and an open box of chocolates on Christmas morning. For breakfast! It was Bobby Sherman and a banana yellow album player. Oh, I had died and gone to heaven. It was a blue "maxi" coat that came down to my ankles with some kind of furry interior and a big hood and brown suede boots. Sarah Jessica had nothing on me.
It was the pretty lights, surely not as many as we all have now festooning every corner inside and out, but bigger more dreamy lights on the tree with shining tinsel that made everything glitter. And the big plastic waving Santa that my father would always put in the window. It seemed the more worn the red paint got, the warmer Santa seemed. It was the leading-up-to, the shared stories I remember on the schoolyard about exactly how-it-goes-down at "your" house. And the inevitable debate about Santa. How could there be a Santa? How could he be real? ("my sister says"..."my brother says")...and get to everyone's house? Well, there are different time zones. He just starts early, that's all.

It was the Sears Catalog - the GIANT toy section where you would circle the dozens of presents you would want. It was the uncomparable thrill on Christmas morning of the bursting stockings and the piles and piles of wrapped gifts for 5 kids in the living room.

I don't know if the seasons hold the same feeling for my kids. I wonder what they will hold dear in 30 years. They have never gone without. They bemoan not having their own rooms (and often make me feel really guilty about it) but otherwise have everything they could ever want. They have rarely had to wait a couple of months for anything, never mind from Christmas to Christmas. So I offer my traditions to them, I tell them my stories. I hope something sticks.
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