Christmas has changed. And it's all because I get to see it through the eyes of a child again!
I remember Christmas when I was a kid, especially when I was old enough to know about my parents' role in the holiday. My siblings and I would go to bed, but I would lay awake. I'd listen to my parents making trips up and down the hallway. I'd stretch my ears to the living room to hear paper and tape and laughter. I'd listen for that last trip down the hallway and wait until stillness had settled around the house.
Then, I'd slip out to the living room, flashlight in hand. I wasn't snooping, per se. I just wanted to see if we'd be having a merry Christmas. I don't know how they did it; time were often very tough at our house, but my parents always made sure that our Christmas would be full of the magic of Santa's visit.
I'd go back to bed, and I would lay there. And lay there. And lay there. It was usually pushing midnight before I could calm my excitement and fall asleep.
I would be awake again by about 3:00, waiting for the sound of my parents. Living on a farm, they were always up around 4:00 to go to the barn and do the morning milking and chores. It seemed like hours would pass before I would hear their alarm clock. Mom would be the first out the door so she could start feeding the calves. Dad would follow in what, again, would seem like hours.
For a couple of minutes, I wouldn't move, just to be sure that they hadn't forgotten something. I didn't want them to return to the house and find me already up! Not that they would have minded; it was just part of the routine!
Then, sure that they were doing chores, I'd slip down the hallway to the living room. Sometimes, my little brother would already be there; other times, he would come out of his room as I passed by.
We would stand there and stare. Mom and Dad would've turned the lights on already, and the gifts would be illuminated in the glow. The rule was that we were forbidden to touch any of the presents. And believe it or not, we adhered to that rule. That didn't keep us from doing acrobatics, trying to crane our necks to read the gift tags that Mom always hid from our view!!
Then, we'd open our stockings, the one thing we were allowed to do without our parents. There'd often be an "Open Now" gift sitting on the couch, a new card or board game to keep us entertained. Eventually, my sister would stumble down the hall, eyes bleary, and we would wait for her to open her stocking before tearing into the new game. (There was that one year when we had to wake her up at 8:30. She'll never hear the end of that!)
After a while, it would near 7:00, and we would start watching for our parents to walk up the hill to our house. They'd come in the door, and the three of us would yell, "Merry Christmas!!"
Dad's eyes would twinkle and he'd be wearing his "Smith smirk". He'd stretch and yawn before saying, "Well, we're going to take a nap before opening presents..."
The three of us would yell, "No!" and he would laugh. Mom and Dad would go clean up, change into some comfy clothes, and again, we would find time slowing down while we waited for them to join us.
Finally, they would return to the living room. They would open their stockings, and then they would begin handing out the presents one at a time, so we could each bask in being the center of attention and could show off what we had received.
It was a time of magic.
I love that I can now share that magic with our son. He's starting to get the concept of Christmas this year, but I think next year is going to be the start of his true understanding and excitement. I so cannot wait!!!