... the weeks leading up to Christmas when I was little.
Each year I would ask Santa for a doll: Mrs. Beasley with her polka-dot dress and her glasses, and her nurturing, sensible quotes each time I pulled the string. Baby Bum-Bum who with a soft, mechanical sound, crawled along the floor, her little "bum-bum" moving from side to side. Strawberry Shortcake with her flame-red hair had a puckered up little mouth that blew strawberry-scented kisses when I squeezed her. (And then there was the one dressed in white and yellow that got a rash on her bottom once she finished her bottle and that I would carefully wipe away with a "special" bottle of lotion applied to tiny little cloth.
On Christmas Eve, my brother and I laid out cookies (Oreo's were his favourites!) and milk for Santa. Sometimes, per Dad's suggestion, we'd leave out a beer as well. And of course, there were carrot sticks or sugar for the reindeer, and always, ALWAYS, a short note to say hello! Thank you for coming to our house, and have a safe trip flying around the world, Santa!
My brother would invariably end up creeping into my room - sooner or later - and we would whisper quietly, with great anticipation, about what would be awaiting us when we finally went out to the tree in the morning. As we got a little older, we would stay awake longer and longer, listening carefully for any sounds that might indicate Santa's presence in our living room. One Christmas Eve night, we swore we heard his sled outside and when we looked out of my brother's window onto the snow covered street that ran in front of our house, there appeared to be sleigh tracks running straight down the center! Can you imagine?!
Early in the morning, usually about 6am, we would awake, and wait together anxiously for the clock numbers to flip to 7:00, the magical (safe) hour that we knew we could knock on our parents door and arouse them from sleep. Dad always wanted to shower and dress first (?!!), and I can vividly recall my brother and I sitting on the wooden bench in the upstairs hall at the top of the stairs, having reluctantly sworn to NOT set a foot on the staircase until Dad emerged with combed, wet hair, dressed, and smellimg of Old Spice. Ah, that excrutiating, nervous butterfly feeling fluttering around in my stomach as we listened the water running (and running and running), knowing that the gifts were just mere (steep, red carpeted) steps away, waiting for us.
Mom would wear her nightgown; looking pretty as always, her hair straight, long, light brown. As soon as all the gifts were opened, she made us breakfast in the kitchen, consisting usually of hard-boiled eggs, toast cut into little "soldiers" for dipping, bacon and orange juice. Everything was laid out on the yellow, flowered place mats atop our massive harvest table, and the kitchen (with the stained glass window and orange curtains) was always bright, and felt comfortable and warm despite the deep, white snow outside.