I love Christmas, although growing up it wasn't really mine to love. I say that with happiness and fond memories; no-one could have loved Christmas more than my brother Duncan.
I remember at three o'clock in the morning he would sneak into my room and tell me everything that Santa left under the tree (Mom didn't wrap those). He would literally vibrate with excitement and anticipation. That fleeting feeling of anger of having being woken up at such an early hour, quickly passed; you couldn't help but be swallowed up by his joy.
Duncan would prompt me out of my warm bed and we would painfully sit by our stockings for hours until our parents finally finished the milking, (our parents owned a dairy farm) and then as soon as they came in the door, the ripping would begin. Mom always had Boney M. playing in the back ground, we'd empty our socks which ended with an apple and an orange; energy of course to finish the rest.
But you know... it wasn't the gifts. It was that wonderful feeling, the one I'm having troubles describing right now on paper. That feeling of love and togetherness, of happiness and fun. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but it's a feeling I wish we could can, so we could experience it on a 'as-needed-basis'.
My brother celebrated his last Christmas on December 25, 2003. On that day his cancer did not exist. He woke my son up early and carried him downstairs (I hang that picture on my tree every year). Since his death it has become extremely important to me that my children feel the same crazy and reckless joy that I did growing up, the problem is my brother had a lot to do with it. This means that for my children, I'm it. I try my best, but I know that compared to Dunc I fall flat.
The best gift I can give my children is the gift and spirit of tradition. Early Gift openings, Stockings, Boney M (of Course)... Egg bake for breakfast, and apple and an orange at the toe of their stockings..and a feeling of love an togetherness, family and joy.
I know my brother celebrates with us every year. I know that when I kiss his picture every year before putting it on my tree (my own not so private tradition), that he feels it and that he's there... and that by having his picture on my tree he's helping me create the atmosphere I'm so wishing to capture.
I hope that someday my children will carry these traditions with them, and of course.. create a few of their own.