The frisson of excitement. The knowing before knowing. That physical tingle completely in tune with an emotional tingle completely in tune with an intellectual tingle – a holistic tingle of excitement pure and simple.
I could be writing of many things … the moment before orgasm – the instant before the birth of any of our children – the expectation of seeing a loved-one after years – winning the lottery (that one is imagined!) …
Instead it is my very clear memory from when I was probably between two – four years old.
Of the morning after Christmas Eve. Very early morning. Like 2.00-3.00am Christmas morning. When we would creep out of bed waking each other with whispers.
“He’s been – He’s been!”
And tiptoe downstairs to experience the magic. Each of us hushed. The house was ours. Mum and Dad still sleeping. The “magic dust” spread all around. Santa … Father Christmas … Old Nick … he had many names … had “been”. He had sprinkled magic dust all over the house and left our normal home looking like a Father Christmas Grotto! Decorations and tinsel … knick-knacks and memories … a tree and twinkling lights … presents all wrapped and out-of-bounds … and that universal tray of half-eaten biscuits (cookies) and sprout leaves for the reindeer… that glass of sherry with the last drop glistening and smelling sweet … the soft sound of Christmas Carols in the background … and that magical smell of pine forest everywhere …
He had been – leaving His magic behind especially for each of us!
I can still feel that “holistic tingle” as I write those memories. Still see the memories – smell the memories – hear the memories – feel the memories. Still tingle with the magic our mum and dad made for us all those years ago.
When we were married with our own children we did the same. We waited until the little ones were tucked up in bed on Christmas Eve – stockings hung up – biscuits (cookies) and sprouts with a glass of sherry – expectations high but our house looking no different than usual … no magic anywhere in sight or sound … We also waited and waited until our wee ones were completely fast asleep … We too sprinkled magic throughout our home – a damp pine perfumed tree … sparkling tinsel … glistening streamers … twinkly lights … crispy sounding wrapped presents under the tree … carols playing softly … stockings filled and left at the bottom of each bed …
We too would lie in bed – exhausted – weary – cuddling a tiny one from crying aloud and making the magic “normal” again … We too would listen for the first rustles – the hesitant movements – the whispered wakings …
“He’s been – He’s been!”
Would hear those tiny silent footsteps – their suppressed excited giggles … And we would have the same “holistic tingling” all over again!
I never felt cheated or deceived. Simply massively and eternally grateful that my mum and dad had loved us so much that they went to all that thought and trouble to really make magic for us. A few short years of magic before we lay awake in bed and giggled quietly at the sounds of our tired and grumpy mum huffing-puffing outside. Share the suppressed fun of hearing her getting cross with dad rather than us. Would wonder just how we ever slept through all the noise they really did make creating this magic (we no longer believed in). Waited for mum to (silently) explode as she realised our elder brother had nailed his stocking to his bed with real nails and a hammer!
That was fun of a more malicious kind.
But the magic is my memory. That holistic tingle. That is what I remember my mum and dad doing for us. And as a parent making that same magic for our children we found out at just what cost …
The sheer exhaustion. The coping with a tiredness headache for 48 hours whilst adrenalin and excitement got us through. The dealing with a constant wanting to scream “Leave me alone for just five minutes” against a greater desire to keep this magical love flowing.
We each bring our traditions with us. We each blend and adapt those traditions as we meet and marry. We each pass on something to our own children that they will bring with them as they meet and marry. And they will them blend to be something else again.
I have received and given many gifts my life. But this remains one of the greatest.
That is my Christmas Story.