Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 7:18 PM
This is a Holiday repost. I still read it and feel like Little Girly Me. And I owe it all to my Mommy Dearest, who never stopped long enough to collect her $200 when she passed Go. Nope, she was too dang busy wrapping presents and gagging over Santa's Oreos.I still remember the magic of the holidays as a girl, when I felt the presence of Santa's elves in the coat closet, those sneaky elves who hid between the leaves of Mom's ficas plant, even in the bread box. I remember trying to be extra good that last week before Santa was due, and worrying about my behavior of the past year. Was my name followed by a check mark on Santa's list? Had I been good enough for a new boom box, a pair of roller skates, and the latest Judy Blume book?
Falling asleep on Christmas Eve night was almost impossible. As much as I wanted Christmas Day to come, I didn't want the magic of Christmas Eve, the feelings of anticipation or the dreams of what was to come, to just...be over. This night was the best part of Christmas. And so I would lay in bed and stare at the olde-tyme jumbo multicolored lights in my bedroom window, wondering where Santa might be in the world at that moment. I had no idea how Santa managed to deliver so many presents to so many of us, but I was glad he did. And wow. Just wow.
I dreamed about a woman who had to give birth in a cold barn stable because there was no room for her in a warm house. I imagined a star in the sky brighter than all of the others. I wondered what it would be like if an angel materialized in front of me right then. I heard sleigh bells, smelled my mom's peanut butter fudge cooking on the stove, and felt the warmth of Santa's smile. And finally the night would wrap me in its arms and put me to sleep.
Every year, my sister and I would wake up hours before it was time for us to actually get up. We'd sit in bed and giggle about whether or not Santa had already made it to our house. Was it safe to sneak out to the living room yet? Could it be that he was here now?
We'd slide out of bed slowly and tiptoe exaggeratedly down the hallway, poking each other's arms at an escaped snicker or at the sound of an elbow scraping against the wall because walking on tiptoes and trying to be quiet seemed to make us clumsy. I was always hesitant about making the trek because I never wanted to actually see Santa. We weren't supposed to. What if seeing him destroyed that feeling of magic? Please, please, please don't still be here, I'd pray.
He never was. But he'd always been.
As we came around the hallway corner that led into the living room, we stepped into the warm light of the still-lit Christmas tree to see that once again, Santa had left too many presents to fit under it. Brightly-wrapped boxes with big bows sat next to Oogie's footstool, and were stacked up in front of the bookcase, everything spilling out at least five feet away from the TV. Two bean bags invited us to sit in them and examine the contents of our stockings. On the end table by the couch was a plate with a half-eaten brownie on it and an empty glass of milk. I always hoped Santa would come every year, but it was still a shock to see that he had, too.
And so here I am today, the same girl and yet not the same girl. It's been a rough year--hurtful in many ways--but I know I can always find my Christmas spirit by remembering the magic I used to feel, thanks to my mom. The little girl inside is still there.