We Wish You a Merry Christmas
I remember growing up in the loveliest little town in upstate New York. Cairo was small, people were friendly, and parents watched out for all the kids. The town didn't have much money to speak of, but they did have big hearts. When the leaves began to change colors, all the children would grow excited, knowing that Santa Clause was coming to town. Christmas in my little town was the time of year we all lived for.
The smell of gingerbread cookies has always warmed my heart. Mom would make them for us before we set out on our yearly journey. While the cookies cooled, we would go out and cut down our own tree. Dressed in our snowsuits, we crunched through the freshly fallen snow to the "cut it yourself tree lot." We would take our time; everyone voted on the perfect tree. We would look at dozens before the tree destined to spend the holidays with us would jump out at us like a sign from God.
My mother and brother would hold on to the middle stem while my father sawed and we girls watched, huddled for warmth. Everyone would help drag it through the snow, leaving a glistening trail. Strapped to the top of our station wagon, we sang merry songs all the way home. Our decorations silently sat in the living room, waiting to adorn our tree.
We all had little jobs when it came to the tree. Dad would start first, meticulously spinning the colored lights around the fresh pine tree. In the kitchen, mom made us hot chocolate that we slowly sipped, waiting for our turn at the tree. The shinny bulbs sat, anxiously waiting, as did we. The last sips of our hot chocolate would signal the beginning of the ceremony, the decoration of the Christmas tree.
Mom would have the honors of trimming the tree with golden garland. Dad would direct us, and my mom would keep us from fighting over the decorations. One by one, the decorations brought moments of joy. We would laugh, sing and playfully dance around the room. Then, the piece de resistance would be the silver tinsel that set it all aglow. Dad would instruct us to gently place the tinsel, one piece at a time. We, of course, playfully tossed handfuls. The shimmer complemented our laughter. In its entire splendor, it only lacked on last thing, the angle that would find rest at the top of our tree.
We would now relax, as the Christmas Eve turkey began to linger in the air. Dad would fall asleep on the recliner as we all watched Charlie Brown Christmas. I would sit and stare at my family, loving them all so much. Then I would turn my focus tree. I would squint my eyes until the tree decorations formed a shimmering haze, and I would wonder what Santa was going to bring for me before I dozed off for an afternoon nap. Mom would wake all who had fallen asleep. It was time to put on our best clothes and head to St. Patrick's Cathedral for Christmas mass service. It was my favorite day to go to church; I could always feel the presence of God on that day. People were especially nice at Christmas mass, and the church stain glass windows seemed to flicker more with all the candles. The smell of incense, the body of Christ, and "peace be with you and also with you."
We would all pile back in the car, starving and excited about the feast to come. Golden turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes with golden brown marshmallows, and my favorite cranberry jelly. We would eat until our bellies protruded. But there was always room for my brother's birthday cake. He was born on Christmas Eve. After cake my brother and my dad would put together the model car my parents gave him for his birthday while the girls helped mom with the dishes. We would clean the kitchen and set up the Monopoly game. We didn't play family games often, but we never missed Monopoly on Christmas Eve. My mom always won, she is amazing with money and real estate. After she playfully dangled her wining at us, she would make the announcement, "time for bed, Santa Clause is coming to town." We would hastily make our ways to our rooms, singing, "you better watch out, you better not cry, you not pout I'm telling you why Santa Clause is coming to town."
After a night without sleep, my brother and I would wait long enough to get a peak of morning. We would head down the hall, to see if Santa had come. Before I could see anything I could smell that familiar smell, the smell of scotch tape always permeated the air. From the smell of it, we knew that Santa had definitely remembered us in his journey.
We would turn the corner, and the splendor of the colorful wrappings and bows made the tree more beautiful than I had remembered it the night before. We would sit close the presents, in awe, secretly spying ones meant for us. We would wait, patiently, until mom, dad, and our sisters would come out to join us. The morning was filled with happiness that would last us all year. We all loved each other, more on Christmas morning. I would lovingly wrap my arms around my parents. My Hero's.
The sound of Christmas was its own musical tune, truly magical.