I remember the Christmas tree standing proudly in front of the living room window for all the world to see. I don’t remember if it was real or artificial, flocked or natural, but to my five-year-old eyes it was beautiful. Shining silver tinsel hung from the branches, and colored lights adorned the tree.
Today’s standards would translate this as tacky, but to me it was magical. A few wrapped gifts rested under the tree, and we tried daily to guess their contents.
One Christmas Eve my twin brother, younger sister, and I decided we were going to stay up all night waiting for Santa. I asked Momma for cookies and milk to leave for Santa. She replied that we didn’t have any more cookies but suggested Santa would love a piece of Baklava. She said that by the time he got to our house, he would be so sick of eating cookies that he would be happy to have Baklava, and I bought into it.
So there we were, all curled up on the living room couch, waiting and waiting for Santa. I remember looking at the clock as it turned 12:10. My eyes felt so heavy, I could hardly keep them open. But the next thing I knew it was Christmas morning, and I was jumping out of my bed. (How I got there from the couch, I still don’t know to this day!) “Wake up, wake up, everybody! It’s time to open our presents,” I announced to the family. I walked into the living room and couldn’t believe my eyes. The room was filled with presents – big ones, little ones, some even too large to wrap. This was better than any Disney movie or fairy tale, a true dream come true.
My older sister called out the names on each gift, and there were screeches and screams of delight as each gift was unwrapped. Finally, the last gift was for me, and it’s the one treasure I was hoping for, my Easy Bake Oven. I got my Easy Bake Oven, and that was all I cared about. I could hardly remember most of the gifts I had unwrapped, but that didn’t matter. I had gotten the one gift that I really, really wanted.
As we each sat on the floor with our favorite new toy in hand, Momma was secretly taking half the toys we had opened and putting them in the attic. Why, you ask? She would rewrap them and give them back to us the next year. We never caught on to this maneuver. Call it recycling, regifting, or just being a smart mom – we couldn’t possibly play with all our bounty or even remember what we had opened. Besides, half the thrill was just unwrapping the gifts.
As a side note: We only celebrated Christmas until I was in second grade. Oh, did I forget to mention we are Jewish?