My mother’s name was AnnaBelle, and I’m pretty sure that she loved Christmas. As the busy mother of three children myself, I can see now that it must have been a bit of a stressful time of year for her! However, she never let it show. I can still picture her in the kitchen wearing an apron and helping my brother and sister and I bake cutout cookies.
When we were done making an incredible mess in the kitchen, she would go on to make divinity, fudge, cookies and candy. Then, she would gather the neighborhood children and help us put together a large candy house.
On Christmas morning, we would all run downstairs to an incredible spread of packages surrounding our Christmas tree. It was always a free-for-all, and I can still see her drinking her coffee and sitting in her robe on the couch laughing with joy. And then, each and every year, she would spend the day remembering gifts hidden here or there, and would hand them to us unwrapped. That particular memory is one I love best of all, perhaps because I am guilty of the same birth defect.
This year I spent the days in school before Christmas vacation covered in glitter, sequins, confectioner’s sugar and incredible excitement. I could see the children shake with excitement, trying desperately to keep their emotions in check should Santa’s crystal ball be focused on Room 252 at Easterly Parkway Elementary School.
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We spent time talking about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and various family traditions. We had so many children celebrating Christmas this year, and they couldn’t stop talking about how Santa made his way to each and every house on Christmas Eve.
“Well,” said Lily, “Santa got his power from Jesus, so that he could go down the chimnies that even have a fire in them. He’s like a special helper that gives presents to everyone for Jesus’ birthday! And his whip has special fairy dust on it, gives the reindeer magic and a bath at the same time!”
One fella added, “There’s a special button on Santa’s sleigh, and when Santa pushes it, the magic dust flies out all over! It’s like magic snow!”
“I think they reindeer eat magic berries that are only at the North Pole, and then it makes them fly.”
“So, boys and girls, it’s magic that helps all of this happen?” I asked. They nodded, and one little boy on the carpet turned to his friend.
“Dude, I’m gonna pull a quarter out of your ear.”
“Robin, how did you learn to do that?” I asked as he tried unsuccessfully to produce said quarter.
“Well, my uncle’s a musician, so he knows all about magic!”
“Um, do you mean magician?”
“Yes. That’s what I said!”
No matter how many discussions we have, no matter how many years go by, I’m always reminded by the children I teach that this job is a wondrous gift in itself. Sure, I love the packages under the tree and the looks of surprise and joy on my own child-ren’s faces each year, but I receive a gift each and every day when I walk into my classroom.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some cookies to bake and some fudge to make, and I’m pretty sure I have some hidden gifts to locate.