I don’t do a traditional Christmas thing. I spend the day mostly alone and have my own little rituals. I light candles. I listen to classical music. I dress in black. I drink cranberry tea. Eat flavored popcorn and do a jigsaw puzzle. And I remember.
I remember good times and some not so good times that led to big life lessons. I remember my best Christmas ever.
This was in the nineteen sixty’s. I was about ten years old and already knew things about Santa and Reindeer and Elves. I was the oldest of six kids and was already helping my parents get that big job done. We always trimmed the tree on Christmas eve then the kids went to bed. I helped clean up, collect and wrapped presents and arrange things for the others before going to bed myself and letting my parents finish readying the rest of the things for Christmas morning. In this way I was still surprised in the morning but helped just the same.
We all got up early and lined up from youngest to oldest and trouped into the living room. There was a mad dash to the tree and stockings, wrapping paper flying, giggles and tears of joy. The regular Christmas craziness under the tree with six kids. Then things settled down as each kid played with their most treasured toy of the day. I got the name brand fashion doll and the Mouse Trap Game that I had asked for along with clothes. My doll had a problem and her head kept falling off and I had to wait until one or more of my siblings were ready to stop playing with their toys to play my game with me.
So until that happened I played with the younger ones, looking over at the box of my Mouse Trap game, lid off so I could see the pieces inside the plastic wrapped interior still kept all safe from harm until I could play with it properly. Play time was up and we dressed in our new Xmas present clothes for church and Grandma’s house. My new dress was miss tagged and it didn’t fit. I handed my new dress to my sister and dressed in my old best dress.
At grandma’s my present hadn’t arrived in the mail in time and I had to wait for another week for it. I watch as the others played and had fun. I knew a secret I still had my game to play with at home so I just dug in and enjoyed watching everyone else enjoy the day.
Mom and Dad sent the rest of the tired kids to bed early and took the time to play my ‘One’ good Christmas gift with me. I carefully opened the box on the table beaming with pride that my parents were spending time just with me. Something they rarely had the time to do with six kids under the age of eleven. We started to play making sure to followed every rule. Half way thru the game it was evident that we couldn’t finish because key parts were missing from the box. The mouse trap couldn’t be put together and run it’s Rube Goldberg contraption self to the end to trap the mice.
Not one of my Christmas presents panned out that year and I was more happy then I ever was when I had arms filled with goodies. The broken toys were later replaced. But I had a life lesson that was priceless. I experienced the joy of the others around me and it was enough.