This year, I’m not sure how it happened, but I got done shopping for gifts last month (or maybe October…). The tree went up early, the decorations are out, and as soon as the radio started playing Christmas music on the radio all day long, I was listening. If you’ve been following this blog for a while or know me personally, you’ll know I’m a total Christmas freak. As soon as the decorations start appearing in the store, it fills me with joy and I just can’t explain why, other than warm memories of my childhood throughout the years and wanting to somehow recreate that in my adulthood in any way possible. There are a few simple memories that I’ve been thinking about recently that bring a smile to my face and figured i would share!
For a long time until I was eighteen, we would always go to lots that sell Christmas trees or garden centers to explore the rows and rows of beautiful smelling balsam. All the kids would go around on our own to spot which one we thought was best while my mom and step dad did the same. Once one was agreed upon, we would eagerly wait in the van while it was tied to the roof. That was always the moment when the anxiety began, no matter how old I was. I would always look out the back window and stare at the trunk of the tree hoping it wouldn’t fall off our car! When I was younger and inexperienced in this area of life, I was nearly convinced it would. We never lost a tree, but it makes me laugh how ridiculously anxiety ridden I was every year taking our tree home! Then after I was eighteen we switched to having a pre-lit tree. And I’ve missed that ride home with the tree on top of the car so much, no matter how worried I was! Not to mention that wonderful “real tree” smell!
I saw this “Coffee for Santa” mug at Ross the other day, which prompted this post, and pretty much had to get it, not just because I’m a mug collector and a Christmas lover, but it sparked a long ago Christmas memory that I love.
I can’t remember how old I was (somewhere between 4-6) but I really wanted to leave milk and cookies for Santa. I remember thinking I hadn’t done that ever and was determined to do it this one year (at least that’s the way I remember it). So, bed time came but I had to put the milk and cookies out first. We set out chocolate chip cookies and when I asked for milk, my dad says “Oh, he gets milk everywhere else, let’s give him Pepsi.” Not thinking twice about it and wanting to be unique, I agreed with Dad that it was a good idea to leave Santa Pepsi. Now, I’ve never known my Dad not to have Pepsi in his house. It’s a guarantee staple, even to this day. What makes me laugh about this story is how much sense it was to me to not leave milk and not even question or fight what my Dad suggested. The next morning, the cookies were gone, and Dad lead me to the trash can and said “Look, Santa was a good boy and even threw away the bottle!”, to which I was completely amazed and impressed that Santa had manners. “Yeah, Santa was a good boy!” I remember replying.
Little me at three years old, 1989.
A few years after that, I was at my Dad’s once again. Of course, at the crack of dawn and excited that Santa has surely come, I get up and rush to my Dad’s bedroom where he and my Step Mom are soundly sleeping. I’m sure just to get an extra wink of sleep, Dad said to go to the living room and check to see if Santa had come. Well, it was Christmas morning, so of course he had, right? I walk out and stop short. Gifts had been under the tree the night before for family members and I knew the wrapping paper well. Whatever was under the tree on Christmas morning was wrapped in the exact same wrapping paper. My little heart fell. Santa hadn’t come, I thought. He really hadn’t come! Nothing under the tree looked different, signifying it was straight from the North Pole. I run back to my Dad’s bedroom and say that Santa hadn’t come. “What? Yes, he has!” he insisted. And I insisted he hadn’t. So he goes out to the living room with me and takes a look at the gifts, and they all have my name on it from Santa. They were right in front of me but because the wrapping paper was the same as everyone else’s gifts, in my mind, it meant Santa hadn’t come. Right when my belief in Santa was wavering, because why would Santa use the same wrapping paper we had , therefore he did not exist (my tiny mind rationalized) Dad saved it by explaining, “Well, Santa thought you liked that paper”. And that seemed like a perfectly reasonable explanation to me and I didn’t even question it! Good save, Dad, good save.
The last sweet memory that I’ve been thinking about lately, is when I believed in Santa. I miss that and the childhood innocence that comes with it when you just know he exists. When it was chilly outside and you’d hunker down in your covers, straining your ears to hear hooves on the roof. Or sleigh bells. Or a soft “Ho, ho, ho!”. You’d imagine that if you heard any of these, you’d fake sleep like a boss while Santa checked on you. And what if you got a lump of coal? The few weeks before Christmas, you’d go over how good you were throughout the year. Surely, there would be no coal for you, but if there ever was, you knew it was just for kicks. Because you were never a bad child but still negotiated with Santa with all your might just in case (if he could hear you, like God could…) “Sorry about that one thing, I’ll never do it again. I’m really Sorry.” That would clear the slate, indefinitely!