Growing up, Christmas eve involved family get-togethers with lots of food, laughter, and love. My mom would do my hair in pretty curls; sometimes with hot curlers, or sometimes with pink overnight curlers. I remember one time getting all prettied up with my curls, red velvet dress with white stockings and black shiny shoes, and my mom let me put on red lip stick. I said, "Everyone is going to want to kiss me under the mistletoe tonight!" I wondered why my mother laughed herself silly and repeated this to family members throughout the night. I was serious! I looked damn good!
When we lived up north, we usually went over my Aunt Bevie's home, and as the night progressed, we'd all have to rush home quick to get into our pj's and tucked into bed before Santa arrived. Inevitably, we'd see Rudolph's red nose in the night sky. I would have so much anxiety that Santa would be at our home when we got there!
I still remember to this day, and I would swear to it at the age of 26: Coming out of my uncle's house in the cold, dark Christmas Eve as everyone pointed up to the sky, and seeing clear-as-day, the bottom and side of Santa's sleigh. It was outlined in gold, and the sleigh was green with large, gold circles. It happened.
And each Christmas eve, we were allowed to open ONE present. We all knew what it would be. Did you have this tradition, too? Nice pj's, of course! So you'd go to bed in brand new ones and then wake up in nice pj's for the morning photos! Sometimes, if we were good, we were allowed to open a second present, but this was rare.
This picture sucks, but isn't my mom pretty?
We also had the tradition of listening to a cassette tape of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas that accompanied a beautiful pop-up book.
I always remember that magical feeling in the air on Christmas Eve. This feeling is what I miss most about Christmas and cannot wait to share with my own children one day.
Just knowing that Santa was working his way through the night sky on his sleigh, and while I slept, he would be eating our church windows and leaving us wonderful gifts (In hindsight, this was also kind of terrifying, ha!). Sometimes Santa would leave us handwritten notes to read in the morning. He'd remark how the cats reacted to his arrival and thank us for the delicious treats. Santa was a gentleman. A few years, we would see Santa's sleigh marks in the snow out back! My mother and father always heard the reindeer on the roof. If it happened to be snowy night where the reindeer couldn't see, Santa would arrive via helicopter! Of course, my mom and dad told me all about it.
Each year, I inevitably would ask, "But mom, we don't have a chimney, how will Santa get in?" Magic, she would say. Oh, right. No question. Duh, magic!
On Christmas morning, the three of us would be up before dawn much to the chagrin of our parents. To hold us over, Santa was nice enough to leave our stockings outside our bedroom doors. I told you, Santa is a thoughtful guy.
We knew there were strict rules about entering the living room until everyone was awake and the adults had their coffee in hand.
Once the doors opened to the living room, it was beautiful. Tons of shiny presents in different wrapped paper that were not there before. All signed, "From: Santa."
I struggle now with the notion of creating new Christmas traditions with my mom gone. Granted, the last few years were not the greatest holidays, but they existed as traditions, nonetheless.
Mirza did not celebrate Christmas growing up in Bosnia. He never knew the magic of believing in Santa. He just doesn't get it. I know when we have children in the very near future, we can bring this magic back into our lives, but for now? I'm lost.
I'm eternally grateful to my mother for creating wonderful traditions, and allowing me to genuinely believe in Santa Claus and the magic that Christmas would bring into my life.
I know that my Christmas as a child-less adult will never be as magical as they once were, but I do wish we could create some new traditions until that time comes.
Share with me your traditions and offer some tips on creating new ones!