Here are three things I most remember about my childhood Christmaseses (Christmasi?):
My dad always put an orange inside the bottom of our stockings. I never knew why. A reminder to eat right? Filler to buff out the stockings? That made the most sense—but why an orange? Why not balled-up newspaper, Styrofoam, or an actual sock? Why fruit? My dad had a tattoo of a butterfly on the top of his right foot. Perhaps he was encouraging my sister and me to be like he apparently was, and associate feet with Delightful Nature. Who knew? But I always dug finding that final, bright stocking-stuffer.
On Christmas morning, my mother always produced a massive pancake breakfast. I’d spend an hour or so ripping open new toys and becoming a frazzled basket-case of frenetic desire and excitement, and then—given my core conviction that the whole point of pancakes was to avoid the rudeness of pouring a half gallon of syrup directly down your throat—would gorge on more sugar than the Trix rabbit consumes in a year. That done, I’d barely manage to hit my plate with my dripping fork before sliding into a thick, buzzy, immobilized trance. Each of my brand new toys strewn behind me in the living room would be calling my name—but I could barely hear them. I could barely hear anything; it was like I was floating on a sea of maple syrup inside some kind of bizzaro sensory deprivation chamber. Vision turned jumpy and narrowed; sound muffled, stomach feeling past due with quintuplets; nerves like a radio dropped in water … that was a big part of Christmas morning to me.
Without fail I would get up in the quiet dark of Christmas morning, tip-toe out into our living room, and in the colored lights of the tree sit and look at the unimaginable number of wrapped presents awaiting my sister and me. The magical beauty of the whole tableau was almost more than I could stand. Ending my swooning revel, I’d stealthily make my way back into my bed, where I’d then lay clinching the tops of my covers and counting the moments until it was reasonable for me to wake everybody up. How my sister could possibly be asleep on Christmas morning struck me—and remains for me—a mystery for the ages.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear any of your Primary Christmas Memories.