I remember how difficult it was to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, my brother and I would wake up and take a peek at the living room which had taken on a marvelous transformation during the night and looked more like the display window of a toy store than the sitting room of our family home. But we dared not look further, as we didn’t want to spoil the surprises that await us, or get in trouble with my dad, who had to drink his cup of morning coffee while we agonizingly and impatiently waited. The seconds seemed like hours, the minutes – days, until we were finally allowed to rip our way through the carefully wrapped presents and goodies, like two runaway tornadoes. Then, after the fabulous day was over, I snuck back into that same living room, lit the Christmas tree and went over the events of the day in my mind.
Times are different now. I’m all grown up and living in another country where December 25th is not Christmas. I think of my family and friends back in the States and my friends in Europe and what they must be doing now. My parents are getting ready for that “long winter’s nap,” and kids are snuggled in their beds, trying to sleep. As the daylight fades, the lights of my Christmas tree reflect the green glow of the needles and the red and gold ornaments that my wife and I hand-picked from different countries during our world travels. I look outside the window of my apartment at the street and sidewalk carpeted with snow. Crystal flakes have outlined every bare branch of every tree. Strangely, this land without Christmas has a forest of snow-covered Christmas trees.
2014 has been a very tough year. A year in which I have lost a lot; a year in which I have had to tighten my belt more than once. But I am thankful to be free to celebrate Christmas and, once again, to be like the small boy of my childhood, eagerly anticipating my one, very special Christmas gift.
For about two weeks now, my darling wife has been preparing this gift. She has taken a room in the apartment all for herself, and has declared it “off limits” for me. Every day, she goes in there for hours at a time, and works away at her mysterious project. I know what she’s working on is a Christmas gift for me, but, for the life of me, can’t figure out what it is. However, there is one thing I am sure of, and that is that it is going to be, by far, the best Christmas gift I have ever received. Because, if the thought counts the most, and I think it does, I am the luckiest man on earth. I’m curious, but I don’t really care what it is, because I already know I’m going to love it. And I hope that, someday, I can give her a gift as special as the one I am about to receive.
Merry Christmas to everyone, wherever you are on Earth. May this Christmas be as wonderful as the Christmases of your childhood past.