There’s been a lot of talk today about Christmas in July, so it brought back one of my favorite Christmas memories.
In December 1989 a friend came home with me from college well before Christmas. One morning we were awakened by the sound of jingle bells jingling. Mama and Daddy had looks of surprise on their faces. “It looks like the Christmas Spirit of 1889 came last night.”
We all gathered in the living room where, in a few weeks, we would celebrate Christmas around our yet to be chosen and decorated tree. There was a sock laid out for each of us. Inside the socks were a huge Bob’s peppermint stick, an orange, some nuts, and a penny, and the other matching sock. I think that’s about right.
The cool thing is that my friend thought it was cool. She talked about how neat it was that my parents would do something like that. Looking back, yeah, I get it. They were trying to help us GET the meaning of Christmas. They had given us our own version of a “Little House” Christmas. (I loved the Christmas episodes so much!) And I love that about my parents. They were never much for letting us crawl back in our comfort zones and just hang out. Both through their actions and their conversations, they challenged us in our thinking and beliefs, while at the same time being a safe place to land. I want to be just like them when I grow up.
The other day my children were talking about underwear. Stick with me here for a moment. My little guy asked, “Mama, does it really mean that Santa loves you if he brings you underwear?” Yes, I told them that. And yes, Santa puts new underwear in your stocking around here–but only if you’ve been really, really good. It means he REALLY loves you. And that was going pretty well until Santa put “Olivia” underwear in our Princess’ stocking and she decided that maybe she was a little too grown, that she really didn’t want Olivia underoos. She was sweet about it though. She appreciated them, but would ponder aloud every now and then, “I wonder why Santa thought I would love Olivia underwear.” The oldest–she’s used to it. Santa’s been upgrading her underwear drawer every Christmas for years. And she never questioned it. It’s these two littles and their questions that have made me wonder why Santa chose to make that a tradition.
And as I thought about it, I remembered that visit back to Christmas of 1889 and how Santa brought treats and things that were useful. I guess maybe the underwear is a tip of the hat to that spirit of Christmas–where it doesn’t all have to be battery operated or come with instructions that take half the night to understand and the other half to follow. Just good stuff, usually much needed, and a little fun. (Well unless you’re me–they just don’t make fun underoos for us big girls. And NO, the stuff from that place does not count. We also want fun, whimsy, pictures of our favorite characters, and comfort.) Anyway, it occurred to me that Santa remembers that year and what my parents were trying to instill in me back then, and he hopes to pass it along to this next generation.
Today when someone on the radio announced it was Christmas in July, I saw my littles’ eyes light up. They asked what it meant and I told them. I halfway expected them to ask how we were going to celebrate. They were smart, and they didn’t; but if they had, we might have had to take a trip for new underwear. Or socks. (I think those things are bailing on me by the boatload. Where do they go?!) But that’s a story for another time. May the true spirit of giving and Christmas be yours today and everyday!