December 25, 1974. It’s Christmas morning and I’m up before the sun. I don’t think about what time it is. Who cares? I’m in my red footie pajamas slowly opening the squeaky-hinged door to my bedroom, shuffling down the L-shaped hallway, past my parent’s closed door, toward our small living room filled with presents. My mouth hangs open at the sight of the neatly wrapped boxes stacked taller than me. Red, green, and blue paper with silver and gold bows glittering beneath the tree. I make my way over to the window, pull back the curtain and look outside hoping to see evidence of our recent visitor. A fresh blanket of snow lights up the entire neighborhood and my breath fogs up the cold glass. I shrug my shoulders and inspect my presents.
I notice the glass of milk half gone and a couple of bites taken from the cookies we left on the kitchen table.
This week I heard the story of a man who grew up in a home void of love. His parents were so into each other, the kids were in their way. His entire childhood, he was largely ignored. Sometimes he would hit his mother just so his dad would beat him. “At least there was eye contact that day,” he said. Heartbreaking.
He’ll never feel what I felt Christmas morning. For him, magic is a mystery.
Later in life I found out we didn’t have much money. I found out my parents were young. I found out they both had difficult childhoods. I found out they were just trying to figure it out.
I don’t remember what I got for Christmas in 1974 75’ 77′ or 80′ for that matter. But I do remember being cared for. I do remember the warmth of being loved.
…and I do remember that it was magic.