Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Sunday, December 7, 2014

An elf in the closet

I have just emerged from our cedar closet after being holed up in there for at least a couple hours. I've been feverishly wrapping the kids' Christmas presents in there with one ear on the door, praying they don't wake up and come downstairs. That's how I found out, around the age of 9, when I crept downstairs Christmas Eve night to find my father wrapping my mom's new dishwasher under the tree. Heartbreak!

Christmas 1979 with my sisters. Me in pigtails, with a beloved dollie!
It's back-breaking work you know, choosing separate wrapping for each child, being sure that anything from mommy or daddy isn't wrapped in the same paper as Santa, and that Santa's penmanship is distinctly different than mine. It's a big job to be sure all four children have just an equal amount of presents each, with comparable goodies for each stocking, too.

I think I get more of a thrill out of wrapping the kids' presents than I do when they open them. The anticipation of their faces when they creep down the steps Christmas morning, then tearing into each gift, squealing with delight at seeing something off their wish lists-- it's too much! Oh the toys and games -- Chutes and Ladders and Twister, the Care Bears (who grin at me with the same cuddly 1980s faces I remember from my childhood), the Legos (which I'd rather stay in the box) and those Barbies! I think I peed my pants when I got this year's Holiday Barbie basically for half price at Kmart. Brayden has been asking for a motorcycle/dirt bike for the past two years and this is finally the year Santa is going to deliver.

I love this time of year because it reminds me of how sweet and precious it is for a child to be a child and how happy they are to delight in simple pleasures like these. Cheap pleasures, like a $2 My Little Pony stuffed animal or a blue Barbie horse I found at a garage sale two months ago for less than a buck. For me, seeing the pure joy in my child's face at a mountain of new toys just brings back memories of those wonderful Christmas memories I had growing up, too.

They were good and simple - fun memories of being a child in late December. Memories of freezing our toes off in the blue station wagon as my dad dragged countless trees to the window for our approval; driving around the neighborhood ooh'ing and aahh'ing at the Christmas lights, hearing my sister sing Silent Night in the children's choir at midnight mass. It was a time when my grandparents were still alive. I remember the smell of fresh pine needles at my Grandpa and Grandma Miller's house, that smell of about 18 different casseroles and the roar of laughter from my aunts and uncles packed in their living room, waiting for Santa to arrive via golf cart from their back yard (apparently that was a perk to living off a golf course in South Bend -- Santa visits in style!)

I remember the beautiful sound of my Uncle Larry playing Christmas songs on Grandma Dominello's little upright piano after our Italian feast at her house each Christmas Day! I miss those little, chewy, nougat candy things she always had, I don't know what they were called, but they came in these little tiny boxes with Italian writing on them. I don't know how much those candies cost her, but she had them for us every year without fail and that memory to me today is priceless.

I hope my children will someday relish in their memories of Christmas too, of the fun they have -- with both our families, with cousins and aunts and uncles and with each other. I hope they realize how much we love them and that I view this as our most important job right now - to make this time special, fun and so wonderfully memorable.

Merry Christmas all!