My husband and I will have eight grandchildren around the tree on Sunday before Christmas, because the day is convenient for all our children and their families. We’ve moved the tree from our tiny living room to the bigger space in the basement in anticipation of the chaos to come.
In the past, we’ve tried to read Twas The Night Before Christmas to the assembled horde, but there’s so many of them, all little, that it hasn’t worked out too well. Daddy Bill’s lap can only fit a few at a time. And forget trying to get them to eat. Kids today seem to graze through meals. That’s why I’ll be making finger foods. No big meals for us this year.
And getting these kids to wait to watch each person open a gift is almost impossible. They are all into “me” and what gifts they will receive. They don’t want to wait. They don’t want to savor the joy of giving, which is my pleasure on this hectic day. But I’ve fooled them this year. All their gifts from us will be in a large duffle bag, also part of their gifts. It was my easiest wrapping year ever.
I remember hating to wrap gifts. My mom and I would sit around a card table and do the deed. My packages never looked very good. But I was a kid. What did I expect? And Santa Claus was always so slow, wasn’t he? It took forever for Christmas day to arrive. Not so today. We turn around, and it’s upon us. We’re running here and there frantically trying to decorate, buy the last gift, or mail the Christmas cards.
One year my father was one of the Three Wise Men in our church Christmas pageant. He walked down the center aisle singing We Three Kings. Later, as I learned the truth about Santa Claus, I also heard horror stories of my father assembling my gifts at night after I’d gone to bed. My father wasn’t the handiest man. But the stories were always told with laughter and love.
When my children were born, my parents always enjoyed spending Christmas Eve and Morning with us. Watching their grandchildren finding Santa’s gifts was probably even better than watching me discover mine. I’d give anything if my mom and dad could be with us Sunday watching their great-grandchildren tear into their packages.
You know, maybe they will be with us. In our hearts. The love never dies, does it?