Thursday, December 14, 2023

Anticipation

When I was a kid, Christmas eve was quite an exciting night. There were four of us and we scarcely slept at all. We would wait until my parents went to bed, and then we would wait until we heard my father snoring. Then it would begin: "Are you awake?" One by one, the four of us would all be piled in one bed whispering in the dark, trying to figure out what we were going to get for Christmas. 

"Well, we'll all get new pajamas and underwear and socks. We ALWAYS get pajamas and underwear and socks..." 

Sometimes the brave ones would sneak out to do some recon in the dark. One year, at a family party, my youngest sister got a 'Give A Show Projector.


You can't really tell but it was basically a flashlight with a lens in front of it so that you could project cartoon slides on the wall. My brother and I caught sight of that, and without one word exchanged, we knew that it was preordained that we were going to do some recon work on Christmas eve, and that this year, we were going to have light! 

That Christmas eve, we went to bed like the little angels we were, and we waited until my parents were in bed, and then we grabbed that projector and we sneaked past my parent's bedroom door and into the livingroom. We switched on the light, and beheld the wonder of it all. We did a careful and slow scan, and when we pointed that projector downward, the lens fell out of it. Unfortunately, it fell directly on the roof of a brand new tin dollhouse. 

(when up on the roof there arouse such a clatter...) 

We scared the bejeebers out of ourselves. 

Parents were awakened. 

There was a lot of yelling. 

But, anyways, that's what I remember most vividly about Christmas: the anticipation of it. 

When I grew up and had children of my own, I wanted them to have that, too. So. I always kept a wrapping paper tube behind my bedroom door. If I didn't hear whispers and footsteps by 5 or 5:30, I would slip out of bed, open my bedroom door just enough to get the wrapping paper tube into the hall, and I would bellow into it, "Ho ho ho!" There would be gasps as kids came awake, and then they would all congregate in one bedroom.  whispering excitedly to each other. They could not actually go downstairs until the clock struck six, but they would all come to congregate in the hall at the top of the stairs and whisper in the dark, waiting for the clock to bong the hour. I loved listening to them. 

That is exactly why my favorite Christmas song is this:
 


It's a silly song but there never was anything that caught the anticipation of a small child as well as that silly song.

We are going to do our Amish Christmas next Friday night. The children are excited. 

We are going to do it a bit differently. On a recent outing, Mattie said that she enjoyed seeing the light displays at Christmas. I had no idea!  I said, "Do you think that it would be okay for the kids to see the lights?" 

She said, "Oh. They would love that!"

A plan was quickly hatched. Tim and I will drive both cars up there. The guys will ride with Tim and the ladies will pile in with me, and we will head downtown to see the light displays for a half hour or so. Then we will head back up on the hill to have supper. 

It is always great fun to watch the kids eating supper, their eyes straying to the pile of gifts on the work table. I am pretty sure that they do not wrap their gifts to each other so that pile of wrapped gifts is quite a novelty. They chatter away to each other quietly in their own tongue, their eyes sneaking looks, trying to guess.  Even the oldest ones seem excited. After supper, they wait for their father to give them the signal and then the place goes nuts. 

I'm grown now. My children are grown too. William is half grown, a teenager now, too cool to get excited, and the girls are too far away for me to share fully in it, but, for an evening, I sit in a warm kitchen heated by a wood stove, lit by oil lamps, and I watch the anticipation reach a crescendo. There is screaming and chattering and much laughter, heads gathered together as they examine what they have received, sucking on their candy canes, Games are opened and played right there on the floor. 

It is such a joyous thing to be a part of, and I am grateful for it. 


36 comments:

  1. I like your use of the paper roll to wake the kids up. I'm sure that they had a more positive feeling as compared to sneaking around.

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    1. Oh my goodness. The sneaking around was deliciously exciting. We'd feel all the presents in the dark and report back...

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  2. A good memory, and I smiled reading it. I guess my parents weren't the only one with the 6am rule!

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    1. LOL. 6 AM was still dark, and it was important to open the gifts in the dark by the light of the Christmas tree. To me, anyway.

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  3. We had one of those projectors too and it was no doubt a Christmas present. It is nice to be among children at Christmas, more so I guess when they don't already have rooms full of toys.

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    1. Oh, it was a big deal in our house. We all use to pile into the closet and shut the door and pretend we were in a real theater.

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  4. I remember one Christmas when my brother and I were little: mum was giving my brother a wash and getting him ready for bed, she was just saying "You have to be in bed and asleep before Santa comes or he won't leave any presents", when my father came back from work and gave a ring on his bicycle bell! Thinking it must be Santa's reindeer, a very wet little boy ran and dived into his bed!

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  5. Those innocent times were so much more exciting.

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    1. It was, and I guess that is what I love about it. One year, as a gift, we presented wallets stuffed with gift cards. To restaurants, to stores, to entertainment venues, things like that, for a year full of fun. It was quite a big gift. One boy opened it and made a face and tossed it carelessly to the side with an aside to his mother. The youngest boy did figure it out immediately and was quite excited.

      You don't see any ungraciousness in these kids. A box of candy canes and cocoa bombs is greeted with just as much excitement as a game. I guess that's what I love best.

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  6. My children used to 'sleep' in one bed on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day started extremely around 2.00 am!
    What a privilege to be part of an Amish celebration.

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    1. Oh, I imagine that they have happy memories of their Christmas eves. In some ways, I think that Christmas morning was almost anticlimatic in some cases. My dad was usually in a foul temper and there was generally a fight. But Christmas eve? It was always magical.

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  7. The Amish outing sounds like good fun.

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    1. Oh, I just enjoy their excitement. Really, it is just what I have missed since our children have grown up and left for their own households.

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  8. I was an only child, so none of that joint excitement at Christmas. I still remember my tin dolls house, Rupert annuals, Compendium of Games, and still have some of the books I was given. The Wonder World of Nature was my favourite - until I started getting pony books to read :)

    You have captured the magic of Christmas. I am struggling to even put a decoration up, and trying to force myself into buying the tree whilst there are still some left . . .

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    1. Oh, I do understand! You have such a lot on your plate right now, and I am sure it is a struggle. I was having a pretty hard time myself, although nothing like your issues. I just forced myself to do the Christmas things. Made a list of what needed doing and did it. I knew that if I didn't get the things done, I'd feel even worse as Christmas approached. With Tim's good news, and Houdi's good news, and the joy of ticked boxes, the 'black dog' has slipped off into the shadows once again. I hope he stays there a good while.

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  9. I remember the pillow case of goodies at the bottom of the bed, couldn't open them till next morning. Then one Xmas joy of joys, a two wheeler bike which I rode up and down the landing. The Amish children sound as if they will have exactly the same.

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    1. I've never really asked. I know that they do not do trees and that they do not tell their children about Santa Claus. I loved your Christmas memory though.

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  10. Oh! I envy you your time with the Amish family. What fun!

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    1. It is wonderful. It has given something back to our holiday that we'd lost as the kids grew up and left home.

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  11. Love reading your memories of Christmas Debby. They remind me of my own good memories.

    I am shocked again by the things your local Amish find acceptable. Perhaps they are a bit more liberal than the sects around here or perhaps I just never asked. But I do know, had I asked and they said yes to driving to see some lights, it would have been at least a two hour round trip to the nearest town with a decent display of them. Farmers out in the sticks didn't waste money on lighting a house nobody would see.

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    1. They live up on a lonely hill, no further out of town than 15 or 20 minutes. Houses do decorate here, even rural ones. Bringing them into town allows us to condense the tour. We will spend the week mapping out the route to maximize the 'show'. It is rare that the whole family can take a trip like this together, and so we want it to be special for this kids. It is important to note that I never asked Mattie about this. It just came up in casual conversation. I was pretty surprised myself.

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  12. Lovely to be with a family gathering ❤️

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  13. We were so mean to our children and made them wait until after the Christmas breakfast to open presents. I always got fancy pastries and made eggs and they would sit there at the table, their eyes wide as saucers, just waiting to get in there and find out what Santa had brought.
    It is so special that you and Tim can take part in your friends' Christmas.

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    1. Not mean! You just prolonged the anticipation. It was a good thing.

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  14. We always go around the room and take turns opening one present at a time so everybody can see what each is getting and who it is from. We go youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest and everyone is excited by each gift opened and also anxious for their turn. It's always been such a happy time in our family.

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  15. The anticipation!
    One year we went to church on Christmas Eve, I was jr high and my sister 4 years older. The rule was once we then went up to bed, we couldn't come downstairs again. We were having a houseful of company the next day, and my mother started vacuuming at about 11 PM. We tried to come downstairs to help with the list of things to do. "Mom, we can vacuum in the morning!" and our parents shouting, "No, you can't come downstairs!!" My sister and I laid awake for more than an hour trying to guess what on earth was going on, what gift could need a vacuum? They had hooked the vacuum hose to the exhaust on the vacuum and used the hose to blow up 2 inflatable chairs for the 2 of us. The next morning we all had a big laugh at 6 AM. Lovely memory.
    Bonnie in Minneapolis

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  16. LOL. I remember inflatable chairs!!!! What a fun memory!

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  17. The Amish celebration must be wonderful!

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  18. How great that you get to be a part of Maddie & family's celebration. And that you have such great memories of your own family Christmases. I laughed at the memory of the lens falling on the tin dollhouse!

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  19. That was surely a heartstopping moment!

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  20. I love the idea of your having an Amish Christmas. I can imagine how much they appreciate your friendship. Our Christmas this year is late because of all the termite craziness we have to deal with. I tried to bake some fruitcake for neighbors today and had the oven temperature set way too high. Arrrrghhh.... I need to make another batch real quick. Sigh... I'm so tired. This coming week is going to be even crazier so if I can't get back to the computer, I just want to wish you and all of yours a fabulous holiday season!

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I'm glad you're here!

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