Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the night before Christmas

Today, although it was Christmas Eve, was pretty mundane. Early this morning I struggled with the fact that unlike Christmas Eve when I was a kid we didn't have any plans....aside from the Nativity Mass this evening.

During my childhood Christmas Eve and Christmas Day where jam packed full of family activities and traditions.

On Christmas Eve afternoon we would go to my paternal Grandparents house where I was the youngest (until my sister ruined it for me) of nine grandchildren. My grandparents house was, and still is, tiny. And it made it that much more fun. Kids everywhere, adults everywhere. Noises of frustration turned to delight once the supper dishes were washed and the adults sat down with us to open our presents. Although the presents were never elaborate ( I always ended up with a photo album or a cross stitch somewhere in my loot) they were loved. It was the feeling I now recognize as being ever more rare. The feeling of a close knit, old fashioned family, coming together to celebrate a season as well as a common belief. The kids would help rid the living room of the shredded newspaper in order to make room to play with our newly acquired treasures.

At 11:30 pm the adults would corral the still playing children and wake the ones that had collapsed from exhaustion and we would caravan into town to our church for Midnight Mass. Although I remember being so tired during church, the minute the crisp, cool night air hit my face afterwards I was wide awake. It was after midnight, and technically Christmas Day, and I was each year uncertain as to whether Santa had already arrived at our house and left because we were not in bed asleep, or if we would, by mere minutes, make into bed in time. On the way home we would turn our car radio to a local station that had Santa spotters and I would look for a flashing red light in the sky that would, of course, be Rudolph's nose. Luckily, each year we made it to bed in time.

Christmas morning I would wake up and go immediately into my parents room. None of this dashing to the tree to see what he brought. No sir-ee. I was too afraid that he might still be in there and I wouldn't want to accidentally see him. --I think I am the only child in the world who didn't want to catch Santa in the act.

After we had opened presents we would head over to my maternal grandparents where we would meet up with my other aunts and uncles and my other 10 cousins that I was the oldest of. And although I don't remember the presents being the big too-do, the meal definitely was. The grandkids had a special table and there was a special plate that we all wanted to use. It was a McDonald's plate with Mr. Ronald McDonald himself on it, along with the Hamburgerler, Grimace and whoever the bird was. It was literally the luck of the draw that decided who got to use it.

These are the memories from my childhood that I will never forget. They have defined me and my almost desperate need for family involvement and they have been embedded in my soul as some of the best times of my childhood as well as my life. That carefree feeling and peace will never exist in me again, because as everyone knows, once you become an adult, not to mention a parent, you will never know complete peace again. Whether it be worries about your children, health, relationships or money.......a carefree existence ceases to be. It is called adulthood.

Now since I am the adult, I am grasping at ways to fill my children's lives with an abundance of "carefree peace". I want to fill them up so as to carry them through adulthood. I want them to have so many memories and moments to draw upon that they never run out and the well never runs dry. Somedays I feel like I am doing an ok job and other days I feel like I am failing miserably.

Today I started out feeling like I was failing. I mean, here it was, Christmas Eve and the day was unfolding like any other. We ate breakfast, played, ate lunch, took a nap, and then got ready for church.

I am not sure what transpired on the way to church that took my attention away from what I felt like I was lacking and turned it towards what I had been blessed with. I think there was just something about the drive to town the kids enjoying all the Christmas lights, dressed up our Sunday best, and my husband attending services with me that almost stopped me in my tracks. -The moment was perfect. I know perfect doesn't exist. There is always better. But not tonight. Tonight--even with its imperfections--was perfect. I know that is a contradiction, but to me it makes perfect sense.

On the way home from church we stopped to eat. No fine dining. Just a quick bite at McDonalds. The kids ate, we ate, everyone was happy. On the ride back home Miss L (who has just figured out what Christmas is all about) sang Christmas songs.

"Sing with me, mommy!"

OK, what are we singing?

"Jingle Bells"

So, in unison we sing Jingle Bells. Off tune, loud, with Mr. B excitedly enjoying our serenade and of course, hubby, quietly driving, smiling.

"wait...let's sing a baby Jesus song."

Ok, what song?

Miss L began singing. I think it must be a new carol or something. I had never heard it before. It lasted almost 5 minutes. I will hit a few of the high points for you.

Imagine this to the tune of.........who am I kidding......there was NO tune....

"Little Baby Jesus was born and he was crying for three days because he wanted Santa to come"

".....Santa parked his sleigh and said if you will be good........"

"Jesus' eyes were watering and his throat was scratchy....."

"Star light star bright Merry Christmas to Rudolph....."

"We love you Jesus....."

What can I say, she's three....she has obvious talent. ;) I think her song, like the night, was perfect. And it is these moments that she will be able to draw from once an adult. Maybe it wasn't the traditional huge family Christmas Eve that I had as a child, but it was still one spent with my own children that I love more than life...singing to the baby Jesus.......

I am finding that even in adulthood I am surprising myself by adding to my own well of memories to draw from. My history doesn't have to be my kids history in order for it to be good. Who knows, maybe they will think theirs is even better.

My wish for your Christmas is to find perfection in the imperfection.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Oh, The Joys said...

That might be the best Christmas song ever! Merry Christmas, Karen!

The Sour Kraut said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family!