By Jan Larraine Cox
As a little child, I was enthralled with Christmas lights and the mysterious, wrapped presents under the tree. I searched the faces of the adults in the room, all dressed in their holiday finest. The magic of Christmas, the miracle of Baby Jesus: somebody will surely explain it to me? But no, I’m on my own to figure it out.
It must have something to do with music, because wherever I look on TV there are brass bands and drum rolls, synchronized step dancers in color coordinated outfits leaping on stage among fir trees. The fife and drum corps enter playing holiday music accentuated by flutes and piccolos.
My little sister Valerie is about to have her second birthday, and she is caught up in the magic and mystery of Christmas. The adults seem grateful we little ones are here and the excitement starts to build. Aunt Rosy hands me a gift to unwrap. Everyone is watching and a surprise wave of shyness comes over me. But Uncle George saves the day by making one of his jokes to lighten the mood.
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My gift is a handmade doll named Little Lulu that Aunt Rosy made especially for me. She looks exactly like the cartoon of Little Lulu from the Sunday paper. I can’t understand how Aunt Rosy created an exact replica of the comic strip character. My aunt is an artist! Decades later, the doll survives unscathed because I have always kept her safe on my guest bed, and away from kids who might play rough.
Valerie’s gift is the Tinker Toys she asked for from Santa. But how did he know where to buy it? How does he find all the gifts for children worldwide in time for Christmas? Well, the elves made at the North Pole, we are told (further proving to us the magic of Christmas).
After the adults opened their presents, it was time to go into the dining room for the most spectacular meal of the whole year. Grandma’s homemade bread, based on the family’s European recipe, is a highlight of the meal. After we all had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Grandma’s bread and butter, tossed salad, green beans, cranberry mold salad, and a choice of Christmas pies, we adjourned back to the living room, where we played with our new toys!
Now, looking back, I understand all the adult details behind Christmas, and I know who actually buys and wraps those presents. But I look back with fondness on my childhood self and I can still experience the magic of Christmas.