Year after year my brothers, sister and I would wait anxiously on Christmas morning to hear my father's voice saying it was all right to come down. Usually I was the first one awake, (although I never admitted that I lie in bed waiting for my little brother to wake up everyone, since it was the assumed job for the baby of the family.) I can remember Christmas' since I was probably 6 or 7. I remember every year, starting at Thanksgiving, my growing eager for the season.

Even now as I look through the boxes of Christmas decorations I see the same familiar ones; the ornaments with our birth years on it, our five stockings, four for the kids, one for the dog, and my father's winter village that is set up on the mantle every year. It use to be easy for us to decide when to put up the decorations. But now that we all have jobs and social lives it is usually a rushed activity. I'm still not sure what year our annual watching of "White Christmas" ended.

Each year, especially as we get older, little things change and during the holiday season is when you realize them. It almost brings a pain to a little place in your heart where all your hidden feelings go. The worst was the year after two of my grandparents had passed away. Besides going to my mom's mother's house on Christmas Eve, and my dad's parent's house on Christmas Day, we just had our family over our house on Christmas Day. Now when I think back to it, I miss having my grandfather slide our presents across the floor. I even miss him calling me my nickname "Jessie", even though I can't stand when people call me that.

Things change, not always for the good, but not always for the bad either. And the things that don't change have the most important meaning to us, and I'm sure they will for the rest of our lives. After all, every time I hear my father's words "All right you guys, come on down, nice and slow" and we go down the stairs in age descending order, first my brother, then me, then my sister, then my older brother. I still get the same feelings in the pit of my stomach...the feelings of love, giving, peace, and most of all the true Christmas spirit.

Copyright © 1999 Jessica Martin

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