Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Two Little Girls at the Top of the Stairs

on December 23, 2010

Our traditions have changed over the years. We used to go to my grandparents house Christmas day until they passed away. We still open gifts one at a time going in order from youngest to oldest. Stockings are always unloaded first. One unofficial tradition that has gone away with growing up is the morning routine my sister and I used to have.

Like most children I hardly slept Christmas Eve. I even told myself the sooner I go to sleep the sooner it’ll be Christmas morning. It never worked. My sister and would be up no later than 6am. My parents are naturally early risers but 6am Christmas morning was too early even for them. The rule was set that we were not allowed to go wake them up until 7am (or possibly 6:30? You get the idea) Christmas morning. We were not allowed to even venture downstairs to look at our presents until our parents were up.

Early Christmas morning my sister and I started our routine; we’d sit at the top of the stairs and wait until we could wake up our parents. We would ponder what Santa brought us and watch clocks intently until they stuck the appropriate time. We were always polite when we could finally wake up our parents. I don’t remember ever running into the room and bouncing on the bed like you see in commercials. We knew to knock, incessantly, until we’d hear the familiar sound of my dad being wakened out of a sound sleep (think of a drowsy sort of yelp as if someone had jumped out and said “boo!”). We’d then, politely, scream “It’s Christmas! It’s time to wake up!” We always got along on these mornings. It’s one of my fondest memories of Christmas; early Christmas morning sitting with my big sister at the top of the stairs brimming with anticipation to see what Santa brought us.

Once my parents were awake we still couldn’t go downstairs yet. We had to wait until they told us it was ok. My mother needed her. My dad needed to get his camera ready so he could get our Christmas morning reactions. There are dozens of pictures of me and my sister in our pajamas with huge grins on our faces at the bottom of the stairs. Looking back I’m glad he captured those images. They always make me smile. At the time, we didn’t appreciate it. We’d been waiting what seemed ages to open our presents and had to wait just a little bit longer. It was agonizing but so worth it.

Things have changed as we’ve grown up. I’ve discovered the joys of sleeping in on your day off. The concept of being up at 6:30 or 7 on a day when I don’t have to be at work just seems silly. Nowadays days I’m the one woken Christmas morning by my sister pounding on my door going “It’s Christmas! It’s time to wake up!” (At least the dialog is still the same.) I come downstairs and my sister and brother-in-law are already showered and dress. They have to scurry off to her in-laws right after we finish opening presents. I am the one that insists people need to wait until I get my coffee (again some things don’t change they just transfer to another generation). Once we’re all seated we’ll go through our stockings together and open presents one at a time like always. The holiday may have lost some of the whimsy it had when I was a kid but I’ll never forget those mornings sitting with my big sister at the top of the stairs.

Merry Christmas everyone! May you enjoy the traditions you have now and cherish the ones that have gone with the passage of time.

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