By Liz James (Customer Service)
Christmases were always special when I was growing up. My parents had three kids, of which I was the youngest. Which meant I was the first one to put an ornament on, and then my brothers. It also meant that I was the first to open my presents when it was just us, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
You see, what made Christmas morning really special in our house, aside from, you know, the whole gifts thing, was breakfast and our stockings. My family has never been big breakfast eaters. Our breakfast menu tended to consist of cereal, oatmeal, and maybe the occasional yogurt. In other words, minimal effort so as to get us out the door quicker. But on Christmas morning, Dad would make French Toast. It was pretty much the only time we ever had French Toast, unless we went to IHOP or something. Even then, we tended to shy away from ordering French Toast. It was our Christmas morning breakfast, and to have it at some other time seemed… wrong.
After a breakfast of the said French Toast, sausage, orange juice, and coffee for my parents, my Dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible. In days past, we used to have to scramble to find a Bible, if it wasn’t already near the table, but these days, he tends to reach for a tablet or phone.
Then my parents would bring in our stockings, and we would open our stocking presents at the table. The night before Christmas, we would lay out these long, special stockings. These stockings were handmade, and each of us tended to have a special one just for us. Mine tended to be the one with white sheep over them. There was one black sheep on there, which I’m sure my parents meant ironically, since I was the youngest and the only girl. Maybe not. Anywho, it was pretty obvious to all three of us that the stocking gifts were NOT from Santa. Mom and Dad would fill our stockings with mostly hygiene items. Shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and even socks. Oh, there were some neat smaller gifts, like some toys and candies. But whenever we opened a hygiene item, we would all yell “hint, hint” at each other. Perhaps when it came to my older brothers, we’d be a bit more sincere in our yelling, but I digress. When it came to the last few gifts, we evened it out, some opening two at once, so that in the end, we all only had one wrapped gift left. Then we’d tear into it in an unwrapping frenzy.
Following the stashing of our goods and the cleaning up of the wrapping paper (or as some would call it, recycling plastic grocery bags), we’d head to the tree. Overnight, the tree seemed to have been visited by Santa, who may or may not have been kissing my Mom last night. Then, one after another starting with the youngest, we’d repeat the pattern of opening gifts until we all had one left to unwrap in a frenzy.
We’re all older now, and we haven’t had a Christmas like that in a while. I guess that’s the price for growing up. Some habits remain, of course… I still don’t tend to order French Toast when I’m out. In my mind, that’s always something only for Christmas mornings.