Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On Christmas

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
~Arthur O'Shaughnessy

I remember myself a child, full of wonder, eyes sparkling like diamonds in the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. In my bed, on Christmas Eve, unable to sleep for all the anticipation inside my little body. It had been building for weeks, Christmas and all of its magic. My brother and I would search the house over for hidden presents before the big day. Our mother became better at hiding and we became better at snooping. I once asked Jeremy if he and his siblings used to look for their Christmas presents before Christmas, he looked at me, seemingly horrified, and said, "No. Why would anyone ever do that?" And that right there folks is a very good example of just how opposite two people can be and still find each other strangely attracted. I blame Pheromones. The armpit ones. Not the pee ones. That would just be gross.

Anywho, I was a kid, getting all jittery about Christmas, slapping my brother around if he didn't do as he was told, which was: let me sleep with him on Christmas Eve, until he was like fourteen. Now, he may end up denying this, and I will say, he put up a good fight, but until he hit his twenties, I could easily have crushed him, and like I've said before, I lorded my seniority and size over him with an iron fist. And yes, if you were wondering, that HAS in fact come back to haunt me. When he picked up and basically tossed me across the room, I pretty much knew it was time to let him be king for awhile.

You see, Christmas Eve was a very special time for us as little kids. My parents, who were perhaps procrastinators, liked to lock us in a room so they could wrap and put together toys. The reason they locked us in was because they were keenly aware of our stealthy ninja-like super human Christmas spying skills and they knew in order to keep Christmas a surprise we would have to be corralled and locked up like tigers pacing in their cages. But, do not be alarmed Dear Readers, (Awwww, wookie there! Did you miss that? I haven't called you that in awhile.) because this room contained more than just padded walls and straight jackets. Oh yes, we had a TV and a bed in which we were supposed to go to sleep. HA! We laughed in the face of sleep! Sleep was for the weak and less excited, not us.

Usually, after we were locked in our cages, er, I mean, sent to bed, we would occupy our time by generally annoying each other. I might tickle him until he threatened to pee himself, and then when I let go he would inevitably elbow me in the face and I might cry and punch him. Then, there would be tent making with our feet and the covers, maybe some shadow puppets with dirty senses of humor. These shenanigans were intermittently interrupted by some Christmas cartoon watching and our father knocking on the door to give us updates of where Santa had been spotted. Apparently he was getting this information from the news. Which is precisely why I don't believe anything I hear on the news to this day. It was probably CNN. Oh, Amanda, I kid, I kid.

"They've spotted something flying over Chicago," He would yell through the door.

"It's probably an airplane!" we would yell back as we grew older.

And then before long he would return, "Looks like he's getting closer, sleigh bells were heard in Gary, IN. You kids better get to sleep or you're not gettin shit tomorrow!"

"Those were probably gun shots! You know all those people are on the naughty list!"

Ok, so that last conversation probably never actually took place, but in my mind it would have been a whole lot funnier if it had.

Oh how my father loved to see us believe in the magic of Christmas. His eyes would sparkle with mirth as he told us about his childhood Christmases. "You kids are spoiled! When I was your age we got an orange in our stocking and our stocking was just that, a SOCK! Now here we are, stuffing toys inside of them. When I was a kid, a piece of fruit in the winter WAS like candy. Now, gimme some of those chocolates."

And yet despite his miserly talk, he never spared any last thing we wanted, whenever he could. He would watch us open our gifts, making us drag it out one at a time so as to prolong the magic when all we wanted to do was tear into them like animals. He was and is one of the best gift givers I know, truly thinking of the person when making his selections. Daddy, if you're reading this, I appreciate that very much. When all the packages were opened and the mess cleaned up, (because he is an artist with OCD tendencies after all, there could be NO MESS. That would ruin the magic of Christmas!) we would play with our toys and he would play with us. And then we would most likely watch a movie. During what I refer to as "My Dark Period" I suggested Scarface or The Godfather. He obliged and my mother would just go to the kitchen and clean something instead of subjecting herself to that debauchery and violence on Christmas. In more recent years we have begun watching Going My Way with Bing Crosby. It makes for a much more festive holiday movie, and yes, my mom stays in the room to watch it.

And now, here we are, here am I. Years and oceans apart from the memories I made, the memories they made for us. Here I am grown, with a husband, a house and a family of my own. The baton has been passed; we are now the music makers and the dreamers of the dreams. I stand on the other side of the curtain, the one pulling the strings and making the magic happen.

We are the secret keepers,
telling them to shut their peepers.
The early morning wrapping sweepers,
and the unbridled childhood -joy reapers.

I watch as the anticipation I once held for this day now runs through my children just as surely as my blood. My anticipation now lies in wait for the looks on their faces as they open their gifts and squeal with delight. I will tell them about my childhood and how once we were so poor all I got was a hamster and Uncle Gordon too ( and he named it King just like he named ALL his other hamsters), but how we were happy because we were together. And one day, many Christmases from now, their father and I will pass the baton and they will do the same for children of their own.


Aged One said...

SO FUN to read! Jami & Reid always slept together as well. Such precious memories. As usual- LOVE the post.

Amanda said...

I love the relationship that you and your brother have! I am blessed to have an awesome brother as well, but our relationship is much different than yours. Wish you were able to spend some time with him for the holidays this year!

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