Archive for the Christmas Category


Posted in Christmas on December 24, 2011 by elsdonssewer

I confess that I have never found a crying need in my life to roast a chestnut on an open fire, I’m not a fan of Jack Frost nipping at my nose and yes the weather outside is frightful. That’s why there are folks dressed up like Eskimos. Despite my sheltered past I have always found the Christmas season a most magical and enchanting time. I do however question the so-called 12 days of Christmas. I find that Christmas comes more in stages.

Stage 1:

Happy Shopping

Yes, I know that all the retailers have had their stores decorated for the Holidays since late June and that by “Black Friday” we are pretty much tired of hearing the piped in carols that only barely sound like the actual song. And yes the retailers now make us get up at Midnight so we can wait on line for their doors to open a 3 AM with promises of the greatest ever money saving blowout sales we could ever imagine.  Well ya it’s a good day to save a buck but more importantly we hope, nay, we know that we can find everything on that endless “list” that we have painstakingly penned over the past few weeks. That sacred list that holds the hopes and dreams of all of our children and grandchildren and nephews and nieces and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and Grandmothers and Grandfathers and spouses and neighbors and newspaper carriers and people you have never met that live in a town that you will never visit because who knows where that place even is.  Have I left anybody out?  It doesn’t matter really because it was a pipe dream at best. You should have gotten up well before midnight.  Oh well, so you didn’t get that now crumpled and vented upon list completed.  Don’t even get me started on those other people out there.

Not to worry there is still plenty of time. Give it a week and try the following Saturday.  Okay so you give it another go on Saturday and Sunday and you come home with a 3-foot gingerbread man (because there is no such thing as too many gingerbread people) and groceries but not one person’s name has been lined through, but you still have hope because there is still time and in your heart you know you will finish. And yes, despite all odds and ever increasingly poor weather, you do. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Stage 2:

Christmas Eve

We all know the joy that it holds for us adults as the hour draws late and we make veiled threats to the kids of Santa not stopping where he senses children are still awake.  Alone at last we now scurry to finish wrapping those last minute gifts. Then placing that overflowing closet of gifts under the tree in just such a way to inspire maximum awe in the early hours as the little ones sneak down to see the magical bounty that Santa has left. The whole time thinking that these are way more gifts than we remember buying but coming to the conclusion that “Mrs. Clause” may have had a part to play in that.  Finally you sink into the couch, a cup of chamomile and peppermint being extended by a grateful and loving hand. Too tired to speak you just enjoy the quiet company, heads resting together, and knowing that that plate of cookies and glass of tepid milk still needs to be dealt with.

Stage 3:

Christmas Morning

Let the magic of chaos begin. Now is the time that we live through our young ones as we see the wonder in their eyes. Though we are still exhausted from the festivities of the night before, we smile and our hearts open when they climb on to our bed to wake us for the big event. Will we ever forget the screams of joy and unbridled excitement that we hear as mom and dad give the nod and drag their tired frames from a warm winter’s bed?  We sit with smiles from ear to ear and the camera at the ready, discarding resolutions made last year that this time it would be orderly and organized, as they tear into the boxes that are momentarily wrapped in their bright green and red and gold papers with shinny bows and trails of ribbon dangling down the sides. We now share in the excitement that this day alone can bring. And yes we all know the understated exhaustion from bagging mountains of wrapping paper before the relatives arrive for the Christmas feast.

Stage 4:

Christmas Dinner

The aroma of turkey and pies and fresh baked breads hangs heavy in the air. The wind blows the snow into patterns of the whim of Old Man Winter outside while we sit cozy and warm with our families beside us on this Blessed day. And who among us does not know the splendor of our dinning room table brought to life with the fine linen tablecloth, the good china and silver, with a pine and red ribbon centerpiece large enough to be hanging on the door. And can we forget the traditional candles festooned with Santa or mistletoe. We can all relate to the giant turkey roasted to a moist perfection or goose or spiral cut ham, and the yams, and bowls of mashed potatoes that are mounded easily a good six inches over the top edge of the bowl and biscuits baked to a golden brown, the heaps of stuffing and gallons of gravy nestled in amongst the carrot jello, cranberry sauce and three bean salads. And yes we all know we are nearing Valhalla as we gaze to the sideboard and see the cornucopia of wonderful pies and cakes and the Queen Mother of desserts, every known variety of Christmas cookies. All sizes and shapes and colors and flavors are represented. They sit on plates designed specifically for this day. They are layered in tins with Christmas trees and snowmen and even jolly old Saint Nick painted on their sided. And the truly special ones (as if one could pick) sit on the cookie tree, the pedestal of honor; the most sought after display in the entire cookie world. Three tiers of holiday happiness each a third the size of one below it and each holding a baked holiday treasure. Truly an assortment of baked joy befitting the dining halls of kings and potentates, all lovingly, delicately and painstakingly frosted or powdered or sprinkled and confectioned with just this day in mind.

We patiently wait, anticipating every flavor that we remember and delight in from Christmases past, chatting casually with one another but never forgetting that we really only want to hear the words from the “boss” that dinner is served. Seated, we bow our heads and give thanks for our bounty and feel saddened just a bit as we include in our prayers those less fortunate then ourselves. The ritual carving of the bird follows and the first bowl of mashed potatoes is passed in the same time honored tradition of the first pitch thrown to ceremoniously open a new baseball season. And we tell ourselves eat and be merry for we have not indulged such in a month and next week we will resolve to loose the holiday gain.

Stage 5:

Now What?

The gifts are open and the bushels of brightly colored wrapping paper has been compacted and found its way into a thirty-gallon trash bag. The dishes are cleared and cleaned and gingerly packed away for another year. The leftovers are wrapped and placed in portions for the family to take home. That once awe inspiring array of sweets on the sideboard is now but a shell of its former grandeur. The belts are loosened and the shoes are off and we have all sworn, “Never again will we eat so much.”

Now…now Grandpa wants a nap. No, grandpa needs a nap.

Grandpa is comforted in the belief that this year’s nap will go well. He has memories of naps gone awry and having to suck it up until he sees once again that familiar and friendly pillow on his own couch. Not this year though. This year will be different. Danny and Pete are 10 and now playing in the family room with whatever new video game Santa has delivered in the night. Jimmy is five and has no interest in anything that Santa did not bring, and dad and the uncles are assembling things for him at a pace that would make a pit crew blush. Jill is seven and really just wants to hang out with grandpa and bless her heart because she will run interference against Sadie, the cutest little two year old the world has ever seen. Grandpa is safe and warmed by his ever-vigilant Jill who has given her solemn oath to protect him in his hour of sleep. Ever so slowly he lets his heavy eyes fall closed and fades in to that blissful event know as post-turkey reverie. He smiles in his minds eye comforted that he is surrounded by those he loves most and drops deeply into that sacred time of peace, that Holly Grail of post feast rest, that snore infested sleep that disrupts conversation throughout the house.

Ten minutes. Ten minutes, I’ll say it again. Ten minutes into a peaceful doze he wakes with a start to shouting, Sadie noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! He finds his guard, who quickly lost interest in her duties as sole protectorate on the floor with Jimmy helping dads and uncles assembling odds and ends. And finds that Sadie, the cutest little two year old the world have ever seen has just dropped a little tiny shoe from her brand new little tiny doll that Santa selected just for her, into grandpa’s ear.

Next year.