Growing up, the highlight of every year was creating a Christmas list. My brother and I would sit at our kitchen table, colored pens in hand, and write till our fingers ached. Then we’d proudly show our parents (who were dismayed by their length), postmark envelopes to the North Pole, and impatiently wait for Christmas day.
By that glorious morning, we’d forgotten what was on the list. Still, we’d wake before sunrise, beg our parents out of bed, and be promptly ordered back to ours “for just another hour.” We obeyed. Fifty-five minutes later, mercilessly jumping on their bed, ripping wrapping paper, only to discover Christmas was over. Another 364 days to go.
Now, I still wake before sunrise. Not to open presents or torture my parents, but instead to pass out breakfast and presents at the local homeless shelter. My six-year-old self wouldn’t recognize me. While giving back is the greatest gift, my reason is entirely selfish. For me, this is the best part of Christmas: my family piled in the car, still drowsed with sleep, and sloughing off the stress of shopping. It’s dark. We’re quiet. Or, Susan Boyle (my Dad’s favorite CD) plays softly in the background. The moment is mundane. But, I see my family infrequently. For that moment we’re the same family before my brother and I left for school, before the excitement of Christmas morning: just a family with somewhere they need to be, together.
So while we’re in the spirit, what’s your favorite Christmas moment? Maybe it’s a family tradition like this one. Or, the best gift you remember opening. (I recall the delight of opening a red game boy one particular morning). Do tell, and happy holidays!
Photographed by Tom Newton.