the eggnog bread pudding just came out of the oven, making its sweet presence undeniably known as invisible bits of it swirl through the kitchen and up to our noses.
the brown sugar bacon has taken its turn in the very hot box, is now sizzling there on the old oven racks.
the boys–bass and soprano–shriek from the basement, playing a game found under the tree. bach pours from the radio, tucked on the ledge.
it’s been quite a morning already.
it’s the morning i love so very much, for its quiet indulgence, its unscripted joys.
what i love about christmas as a mama who loves tending her boys is the chance to lay down deep chords, to wrap them in ways that will forever inform their vision of christmas.
even if, just a while ago, the older one mentioned how some christmas he wanted to go the cheap-chinese-and-a-movie route, to try out being jewish for christmas. i laughed, then got teary eyed, said, “wait till i’m dead.” (not a moment later, mulling it over, we struck this religious detente: christmas morning we’ll keep, and at 2 some christmas afternoon, we’ll give it a whirl, shuffle off to chow mein and a movie.)
oh, the joy of christmas.
while i purr like a cat, puttering about the kitchen, making merry with sugar and cinnamon, egg nog and spice, i leave you this little tale that i wrote for the tribune. seems like just the right bit for this christmas-y morn…
Long, long ago, I figured out the Christmas morning secret: Before the sun peeked up, I would tiptoe down the stairs, guided only by the light of stars and moon, if I fancied half a chance of getting there before Santa’s shiny boots landed with a thud.
After all, once the jolly fellow in the all-red duds arrived, it would be bright lights and crinkled paper hurled beneath the tree. And if I wanted what I was after, well, I practically needed to slide down the banister before another creature stirred in that old house.
Oh, this wasn’t back when I was a child. But, rather, as the mother of a sleeping babe.
It was there, in the kitchen, as the windows clouded up with steam — as heat from the oven met with bitter freezing cold just beyond the panes — that I discovered the joy that, for me, comes on no other morning of the year: Christmas tunes on the radio, tree lit bright just for me, I haul out the makings of my tried-and-tested coffee cake, I get the cocoa bubbling on the stove, I set the table with a handed-down set of merry Christmas plates and cups and saucers.
It is the gift of making joy in the morning, wrapping my every sense in the magic of the season, and then, once the footsteps come — not so long ago, padded toddler feet, now the clomp of boys who’ve grown to nearly man-size — I get the best unwrapped gift of all: I behold the face of pure delight as my most beloved boys dive into what’s become of my pre-dawn puttering.
They needn’t say a word, needn’t whisper thanks. The thrill comes for me in watching tradition replay its fine refrain, the candy canes lifted from the cocoa, the clementines passed around the room (and occasionally tossed as if baseballs), the Christmas stockings unceremoniously dumped.
This is a mama’s heart’s content: to lay down the stuff of dreams, and weave golden-threaded memories for all the yuletides yet to come. Mine as well as theirs.
from my steamy kitchen to yours, i wish you the utter contentment that comes, wholly and purely, on the most blessed of christmasy morns.
xoxoxo wherever you are…..
p.s. instead of snow we’ve buckets of rain here this christmas, thus instead of white it’s a wet christmas….