Monday 25 December 2006

Christmas Morning

My childhood memories of Christmas morning are just as vivid as they are of the night before. When we got home from our celebrations at Nanny's house, all 5 of us children would pile into one bed: head to toes alternating. Well, Santa wouldn't come until we were all fast asleep and the probability of that happening with all 5 of us in one bed just was not high. Eventually, we would drift off to our own beds because we didn't want it to be our fault if the cherry-nosed one had to detour round our home.

We inevitably awoke before the crack of dawn and made our way very very quietly (as quiet as 5 children can be in the dead of night) down the stairs to the family room. Santa would have delivered a major present and placed our stocking next to it (just in case there was some confusion and any of my brothers wanted to argue over which present belonged to whom). It was amazing the restraint we showed by going through the stockings first and then stopping to appreciate/enjoy/celebrate the bounty Santa has delivered. All of us would then settle in (for a long winter's nap?) and commence discussions on when we felt would be the appropriate time to wake mom and dad.

Once mom and dad had been awoken then the phone call went in to my grandma and grandpa (my mother's parents). They lived just south of us and would need a good 30 minutes to get to our house and we felt it very important that they arrive as soon as possible after my parents so as not to delay any present opening. My grandma and grandpa would arrive with bags and boxes full of presents which we would add to our pile under the tree and the waiting was over.

The present opening itself was all a bit of a paper hurricane with bows and ribbons flying everywhere. I mean, can you imagine 5 children opening presents all at once? What wonderful chaos!

My mother always made a great breakfast: fried eggs, bacon, toast. We would then take stock of what each one of us had received and restack the presents under the tree unopened. Dinner was a huge affair and meant we got to eat in the "dining room" using the good china and crystal. The table always looked superb. I'll never forget the year my brother, Shelby, picked up his paper napkin and asked if this was one that he could use or did it have to be saved until next year. We all fell about laughing our heads off and every year we pulled that napkin out of the drawer and handed it to Shelby. I wonder what happened to that napkin? There was inevitably the culinary disaster (ah, so this is where I learned to cook....) like the time my mother went to get the jello mould out and the whole thing went down the sink drain.

Once I became an adult (in age only) but before I was married and had children I used to travel the world on Christmas. I've spent Christmas in Australia, South Africa, Switzerland and many other places. Some of those memories are good ones and some are not so good. I always missed my family.

Now we make our own memories with our own families. I love the fact that Sebastian was up a few mornings ago wanting to put all of his presents in a pile (for ease of opening, I suspect, or possibly to compare his pile to that of his sisters) and the mere mention of the imminent arrival of the Bearded One inspires the best behaviour in a nearly 3 yr old.

The Clare-Panton Family wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope this holiday brings peace (even if only temporarily) to people everywhere, joy where there is sadness, and hope where there is despair. When you are busy making your memories this holiday season, take a moment to savour the moment and remember Christmases past, present, and future.

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