A Christmas Memory Too!


I was like James Bond, if 007 had one primary mission a year, and it was reconnaissance.  My dad was like a combination of Dr. No and Scrooge before he found the spirit of Christmas. Only, unfairly, in this particular Bond movie, Dr. No won.  He always won.

The mission?  View the wonder that was the Christmas tree on Christmas morning before breakfast.

Until that morning, the tree was brightly lit, hung to within an inch of its life with every single ornament we could fit on it, all dolled up and sparkly and beautiful.  And, until that morning, it had nothing under its boughs.

Between the time we went to bed (Christmas will come sooner the sooner you go to sleep – how hard is it to fall asleep after a statement like that?!) and the time we awoke in the morning, the magic happened.  Presents – set out Oh So carefully and beautifully, arranged around the Christmas tree, reflecting the twinkle of the lights out into the room off their brightly coloured paper.  Stockings that, the night before, had been merely cartoonish socks draped over a chair were stuffed with possibilities – chocolate, candy canes, coloured pencils, animal shaped erasers, and other small supplies(one time, I got a measuring tape!), and at least one Clementine.

The house rule was that no-one gets to go into the living room until after breakfast.  And, of course, the whole family had to be finished breakfast.

Soft boiled eggs, lots of bread for dipping in the eggs – we all loved Christmas breakfast (still do!), but that was the longest meal of my life!  First, waiting for my mum to finally emerge from upstairs hours and hours after the rest of the family had gotten up (or, looking back, around 8:30, unnaturally early for my mom), and then, waiting through an entire breakfast, knowing that the magic was just down the hall.

I tried everything to get an early glimpse of the living room.  No matter how early I woke up, or how quietly I crept down the stairs (sticking to the edges to avoid making them squeak), there he was.  Dr. No.  Sitting quietly in the dark kitchen, and refusing me entry to Christmas morning, coffee in hand.

My creeping skills and rising early skills were no match for his cheerful “Good morning!”

Diabolical, I tell you.

Switching from creeping to cunning, I would casually announce that I had to go pee.  Ever so innocently, I would stroll towards the hall – the hall leading to the washroom… and the holy grail of conifers!

Dr. No was too sharp, though, and just as cheerfully as he mocked me with good morning, he suggested I use the upstairs washroom.

I left my book in the living room?  Oh, I noticed that last night, and brought it out here for you!

I want to go see the tree?  Nope.

Can we eat breakfast now?  Not until your mother and sisters wake up.

I’ll go wake them up!  No.

I’m going to go get something upstairs… something that has nothing to do with waking mom up.  No.

Curses, foiled again!

When we finally emerged from the kitchen, stuffed and happy, and finally got to see the tree, glorious tree, it was as a family.  And, sitting comfortably around the tree, faces shining with reflected lights, we finally got to find out what Santa brought us.  In the other family tradition of passing out one present to each person and waiting as each person opened their card, then their gift, and admired it.

In the end, though, it wasn’t the flurry of paper as presents got ripped open, and it wasn’t finding out what we got.  It wasn’t even the fact that we were allowed candy canes or pieces of chocolate orange right after breakfast (along with a Clementine or two).  Christmas morning was seeing the tree all lit up and in its full glory, with the mystery of the newly arrived packages still intact.  And, for a long time, it was also the challenge of trying to be the first to do so.

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14 Comments

  1. What a lovely memory. When I was around 7 or 8, the stockings were set on the bottom of the steps leading to the upstairs. We lived in a converted cottage and my parents bedroom was in the back and mine was…..right outside the stairs.

    I could barely sleep on Christmas eve and many a Christmas morning I spent in the dark, feeling up those stockings. 🙂

    • haha, awesome. I can picture it so easily, trying to figure out what’s in the stocking by touch alone! This is probably why my parents were so determined to keep everything away from us until they were ready – i definitely would have been feeling up the gifts, given the opportunity.

  2. 😀 I thought that this would be the tale of finding out that Dad had taken out all the tumblers from all the bells that we hung on the christmas tree.
    Do you remember that? The little bells kept falling down, and making such a noise, and then dad took out the ringers, and it made significantly less noise…
    Dad’s fun 😀

    • I do remember it… i’m pretty sure the bells still don’t have tumblers in them. It’s kind of like the bells in the train movie – you can only hear them if you really REALLY believe 😛

  3. What a great memory. We had to wait until our parents woke up, but didn’t have to sit through the big breakfast before seeing what Santa brought. 😆

    • my parents were very determined that christmas morning shouldn’t last the 45 seconds it would take us (given the choice) to shred all the wrapping paper in the living room. the breakfast also ensured we had something other than chocolate for breakfast 😛

  4. Oh, I like that! What a fabulous tradition! We are making one with our own children. We get in our pajamas/slippers, hop in the car with hot chocolate and turn on the Christmas tunes and heater. We drive around neighborhoods looking for christmas lights. Some houses are awesome. We eat a goodie and enjoy just driving around town. This year, we’ve done up some Thank you cards to place on some doors of homes that really made an effort. 🙂

    • I’ve been reading about your tradition, and I love it! I love seeing all the christmas lights – my walks now tend to go down the streets with the most christmas lights, just to be able to take it all in. Such a great idea about giving thank-you cards, too!

  5. Ha, ha. Your Christmases sound way cooler than mine. They weren’t bad but my Dad always had to work on Christmas so we celebrated ours early. What a great tradition you had!

    • My uncle always works on christmas – any holiday, in fact. He gets paid overtime/holiday time/whatever for doing it, which is why he alwasy volunteers, but yeah, that would be tough, missing christmas! Sounds like you all did your own traditions before the day of, though, so that’s good 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your memories. This is what I have been trying to re-kindle in myself this whole month. Right here, in this post, is the Christmas spirit I have been searching for. 🙂 With your stories, I am remembering some of my own.

    • Happy to hear it! this month does seem to be lacking in that christmas-ey feel. it doesn’t help that it isn’t even cold out where I am, let alone snowy. It might as well be march, which is definitely not a festive month.

  7. Vicki

     /  December 16, 2011

    My family tradition was to make Christmas a FAMILY affair.
    No Flurry of paper and back to bed.
    Family is a meal, sharing who gave who what, and from whom. You can take note of what everyone got, and why if you have already eaten, as a family, to reinforce the fact that the point of the holiday is FAMILY .. . not the prezzies!
    My husband grew up with his sisters waking him at 4AM and having a blizzard of wrapping paper, and then going back to bed until noon. Then on to a pre-cooked cold turkey . . . usally partially eaten already . .. wings and drumsticks missing.
    I don’t care HOW you do it, but make Christmas about bonding your family, and making the really important memories about the people, and not the THINGS!

    • … for those of you not catching on, this would be my mom. 🙂
      I’m not saying I don’t enjoy our traditions, I’m just saying that not being able to see the tree in all it’s santa’s-been-here glory until after breakfast… I was wound so tight in antici…. PAtion… it’s a miracle I didn’t pee my pants!

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