“Santa came!” rang throughout the house.
Sometimes, these words resounded as early as two or three in the morning. I know now that often my parents stayed up late into the night assembling the pink cardboard sink and refrigerator set (with burners that glowed when you turned them on) or the various bicycles we received throughout the years. Never once did they complain. Never once did they tell us it was too early to get up or send us back to our rooms. Christmas day began the moment one of us bounced out of bed.
I carried on the same tradition with my son, Paul. His excitement fueled our energy as we’d open all of our gifts in the dark of the predawn, warmed by the tree lights and the pleasure of surprises. Everyone oohed over various presents. Someone clicked on the television to Christmas movies, and our day piddled along with food and family, and a long and lazy afternoon nap for everyone.
I have friends who have rules for Christmas. I cannot imagine why a day of indulgence should have rules. One friend insisted her kids let her sleep late as part of their gift to her! Another friend has the entire family sit down to a scrumptious breakfast before a single gift can be opened. Then every dish has to be washed and put away before her family opens their presents from family members. Santa gifts sit untouched under the tree until after their dinner later in the day.
I believe teaching delayed gratification is an important lesson, but not on Christmas day! I love our mad dash to the tree, the ecstatic squeals of delight as we rip through the wrapping paper. I love the sea of paper, tissue, and boxes that lap knee high around us in the living room. I love our lazy afternoons of catnaps and idle chats.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman