What I would give for a holiday that captures the magic of Christmas through my seven year old eyes. When the month lingered and lallygagged and would finally erupt into a mound of excitement I could barely stand. When the house was filled with smells and sounds and secrets that spelled Christmas. When the Sears Big Book Christmas Catalog held all that I could have ever dreamed of.
When everyone I loved would curl up in their respective beds, or corners or sleeping bags under the roof of my grandparents farmhouse. Where my uncle would make me a part of his grand scheme and in the middle of the night we'd creep down those creaky wooden steps and sit beneath the tree. Rattling, poking, shaking. I remember then that it was less about the gift inside and more about being the chosen one to go on this great journey into the night.
Grandma's house wasn't fancy, like those farm houses in Pottery Barn catalog that I've spent a lifetime trying to replicate. I should have spent this lifetime trying to replicate the spirit of Grandma's house. Sure Grandma and Pop had their share of stubborn farmhouse spats but in both of their hearts was love.
It was sometime before I realized that two of those I called "uncles" weren't really related at all. They were young men that had been invited or simply asked if they could live in the farmhouse because their families couldn't or wouldn't provide them a real home.
On Christmas morning, the house was filled with those expected and anyone that had no Christmas tradition of their own were welcomed in. My grandmother would always wrap a few spare gifts for "boys and girls" that found their way to us on Christmas morning. My uncles would often find a spirited holiday party to attend on Christmas Eve, it was the 70's after all, and anyone that had no one would be a part of us.
Anyone that dated or married into our family found their way to our house on Christmas Eve night to awake on Christmas morning in the farmhouse. I always believed that we were the Golden Ticket of Christmas.
Just last week one uncle said, "Hey, remember the year I brought the bum home for Christmas." Of course! That was my favorite. We would now refer to them as "homeless" to be politically correct but on this Christmas morning, the bum had found a home and a new flannel shirt and grandma's homemade noodles.
After all the surprises had been revealed, I'd belly up to the kitchen table with it's best holiday plastic table "cloth" and feast on the Christmas breakfast tradition of chocolate chip cookies dunked in milk, while the rest would sit around the wooden bowl full of nuts and pile their shells beside me on the table talking about the latest and greatest adventure on the farm and all was right with the world.
I miss my seven year old self. I wish she would come over and play today. I wish she would climb up on grandmas couch with the Sears Big Book of Christmas and circle the best stuff and put a star beside the grandest of them all.