Chateauguay, Christmas, Christmas Eve, Diana Schwenk, family, growing up, happy, Hump Day Chronicles, joy, laughter, life, living in the moment, love, memories, Merry Christmas, parents, Quebec, Relationships, Stuff my parents used to say and do
IT’S TRUE. WE DIDN’T HAVE A CHIMNEY.
But that wasn’t a problem for Santa back in the day when we celebrated Christmas at 111 Edgewood Drive in Chateauguay, Quebec.
Back then Santa just rang the doorbell on Christmas Eve when my family, according to German tradition, celebrated Christmas.
I know, I know, I’ve heard from many of you over the years how much you loved coming down in your PJ’s and opening gifts on Christmas morning. But in the Schwenk house, we celebrated on Christmas Eve and it went something like this…
“Come on kids, we need to get ready for Christmas. Santa won’t come if we’re down here!”
So up the stairs we go. Our outfits carefully chosen by Mom and laid out on our beds. But first into the upstairs fancy purple and black tiled bathroom – the one that had convinced Mom that this was the house we would buy – to wash our faces, brush our teeth and fix our hair.
DING DONG goes the doorbell!
Mike and I are ecstatic, “Santa’s here!” And he is noisy! The way he stomps up the front stairs laden with packages when Dad lets him in. What a paradox that Santa is; noisy and bold, yet apparently too shy to be seen by us.
The bathroom reverberates with our nervous laughter and excitement as we get all dolled up and dressed in our finest clothes under Mom’s careful supervision. And just as quickly as Santa comes, he is gone. We know this because we hear the door open and then slam shut.
Down the stairs we scramble. And into the living room we go. Wide-eyed staring at the Christmas tree all lit up, with presents laid below. Over at the dining room table our places are set with the finest dishes and the crystal glasses. At the center of the table is the Advents Kranz that Mom made by shaping a hanger into a circle and fastening evergreen boughs on it with wire to form the perfect wreath. Dad made the stand from wood. It has a base for balance and a round stick like that of a broom handle sticking up. The Advents Kranz is wrapped with red ribbon and the long pieces are stapled to the top of the stick holding the wreath, seemingly, in mid-air.
Before the present opening, we light the four candles on the wreath and eat our meal and Mom’s home-baked Christmas goodies for dessert while listening to Bing Crosby and Perry Como albums playing on the old console stereo.
Yes, we really just want to get right to the present-opening part of the evening. But there is something so magical about taking the time to look at the Christmas lights and candles and how they make the garland and tinsel icicles shimmer and sparkle.
But then after our meal
It is time to open our presents!
I didn’t know it then, but looking back, the best part of Christmas was really all of us being together.
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~
I’m gonna do myself a favour this Christmas. I’m gonna look at those whom I spend the holidays with. I mean really sit back and see them. And I will make a conscious effort to recognize the gift of being all together. How about you?
On behalf of the Schwenks, and from my home to your home, have a very Merry Christmas regardless of the day you celebrate it on.