This time of year always makes me reminiscent of my childhood. As a young girl, the holidays were full of evenings spent with family, making multiple stops at different homes to enjoy delicious treats while visiting with cousins, aunts, uncles, Nana and Tata. There was always an abundance of food for everyone in the packed houses we visited and plenty of cousins to play with while the grown ups shared stories and jokes.
My favorite night of the holidays was always Christmas Eve. For as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve was spent at my Aunt’s house enjoying endless amounts of red tamales and bowls of steaming hot menudo topped off with delicious Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies. On the way home from my Aunt’s house, we would take a tour of the neighborhood to enjoy the twinkling light displays and revel at the streets lined with luminarias.
Arriving home with content bellies, my sisters and I would quickly change into our pajamas and set up our beds for the night. This night, in anticipation for Santa Claus’ yearly visit, we always slept together in one room. As soon as my Mom closed the bedroom door, we knew that we were tucked away for the night. We feared getting up and seeing Santa, as we had been warned that Santa needed time to work and would not return if he were spotted by one of us. This fear and the excitement of Santa’s visit made for a very long night.
Early the next morning, we were up! Running into the living room to see a room filled with gifts and an empty plate where we had placed cookies for Santa.
The morning was spent unwrapping gifts, listening to Christmas music and playing with our new toys.
I miss these days. Waking up early with my sisters and parents. Spending the morning in our pajamas. Playing with our toys. But, most of all the wonder of this time of year.
We continue to get together each Christmas, and on that morning, the wonder that I felt as a child returns my heart.
My parents are getting older, and each moment spent together as a family is cherished more than ever. We are making new memories, and celebrating each other in new ways, while reminding each other of all the good times spent together. And, this is the most precious gift that I hope to receive each year.