Our typical Christmas tradition was to go to the Christmas Eve candle light service; and then, mysteriously, while we are at church, Santa Claus came and delivered all our presents. After an evening of activities, we woke up on Christmas Day and went to church again. The rest of Christmas Day was spent with family, eating, playing, and having fun.
This was the routine each year during my childhood. One year, it changed. I don’t remember how old I was, but I must have been four or five. At the time, we lived in a basement home on the farm. We lived in a basement for several years until the upstairs was built. Living in a basement is like living underground. Only small windows around the perimeter let light in.
During this year, our tradition took a slight turn. Christmas Eve brought a tough snow storm, so there was no trip to town to attend that year’s candle light service. How could Santa come now? We were going to be home the whole evening!
We were supposed to get in our pajamas as Dad put the car back in the garage and checked on a few of the animals to ensure they were good for a long night. As we were getting ready, I am sure we were asking our Mom about how or when Santa would come since we were going to be home. All four of us were in our bedrooms getting ready and, all of a sudden, we heard footsteps on the roof.
Now, as I mentioned, we were living in a basement home at the time. Basement homes have a very low, essentially flat roof.
When we heard the footsteps, our eyes must have gotten real big, because we knew it must be Santa! As we listened carefully to the movement, our Mom cautioned us to be quiet and not disturb his work. We listened carefully, and we could hear his big footsteps coming down our stairs. The rustling around our living room seemed to come through loud and clear. Stunned that we were witnessing Santa in action was beyond belief.
We heard Santa leave and quickly finished getting ready. We could not leave our room, but the anticipation was growing.
We had forgotten about Dad during those moments. After time passed, he reappeared, and I am sure our excitement overflowed with what had just happened.
The wonderment of that Christmas Eve is a moment I don’t think I will ever forget. As the snow blew outside, the Christmas spirit inside our basement home was alive and warm. I remember many presents, laughter, and good times and, from there, my memory gets a little fuzzy.
Many Christmas seasons have come and gone since that time, and now we have our own Christmas traditions developing as our family. I will never be able to re-create the wonderment for my sons which occurred for me so many years ago. Creating those crisp moments in our families is so very essential though.
When I used to read The Polar Express to my sons, the part about hearing the bell and believing often took me back to the memory of that special Christmas. It was a true moment of belief, and it hasn’t stopped since.
What are your strong Christmas or holiday memories?