Every year my mother and I would leave cookies out for Santa Claus. But that wasn’t enough for me because I, having grown up with Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, wanted to leave food out for the reindeer. So my mother, ever accommodating, let me put out carrots which she assured me reindeer love.
This is the sort of thing my mother did. She spoiled me and surprised me constantly. One year, she sprinkled glitter on the floor to show where Santa had been. She learned the hard way that cleaning up glitter is easier said than done. No doubt, the people who moved into the tiny apartment after us wondered where the heck all the damned glitter was coming from
When my children were little, we couldn’t afford for all three of them to believe in Santa. We chose not to teach the children about Santa, but we enjoyed all of the holiday specials. Of course, we watched Rudolph each and every year.
But I think Christmas was still magical for my children. Christmas Eve, we would have eggnog Cream of Wheat for breakfast. Then we would watch whatever wonderful holiday movies we could find on television or listening to Christmas Carols. We would then go to a movie. We enjoyed everything from Toy Story to Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings. After the movie matinée, we would get pizza for dinner. When the sun set, we would get into the car and drive around, looking for the pretty lights in the neighborhood. At every intersection, we would stop and choose which direction to go, looking first left then right to see if another direction showed signs of more promising displays than merely going forward.
When we were done exploring, we would come home, have a cup of hot chocolate, and then they would go to bed. Once they were asleep, I would begin wrapping. This would easily keep me up until midnight. Most years, I was up well past midnight. Nonetheless, I would be lying in bed, half awake, waiting for the children to get out of bed. They were under strict orders not to go into the living room where the tree, surrounded with gifts, would be lit and awaiting. They had to come and wake us first.
So they still had that magical moment of waking up and finding all of these things waiting for them under the tree. Maybe there wasn’t a Santa invading our home to dump things under our tree but I did my best to make everything under the tree look like as much like love as I could make it.