When my sister and I were kids, Christmas dinner with my mom’s side of the family took place at our house, and later that night, we went to my grandparents’ house to celebrate with my dad’s side of the family. So, since Christmas Day was full of activities from sunup to sundown, my parents decided our family of four would open our gifts on Christmas Eve – except the gifts from Santa, of course, which didn’t arrive until the wee hours of Christmas morning.
After a quick and simple supper on Christmas Eve, we would make our way into the living room. As soon as Mom was ready with her camera, one at a time we would unwrap a gift, and then hold it up so Mom could take a photograph. Once all the gifts were opened, Mom and Dad would help us haul our new toys downstairs to the basement, where we happily played until Mom said it was time for bed. We were never ready, of course, until Mom reminded us that Santa wouldn’t come until we were fast asleep. That was all it took.
Before we went to bed, though, we had one more thing we had to do – put out milk and cookies for Santa. While Mom poured a glass of milk, Dad made sure our plate for Santa held several sugar cookies, which were his favorite. To make sure we included plenty of them, he told us that he had talked to Santa, and that sugar cookies were Santa’s favorite kind of cookie.
Seconds after Mom and Dad tucked us in, my sister would start in with her evening ritual of needing something: “Mom, I need to go to the bathroom,” or “Dad, I need a drink of water.” I just knew Santa was going to skip our house because she wouldn’t go to sleep. Luckily, though, he never did.
Bright and early Christmas morning, my sister and I would wake up, jump out of bed, and race down the hall to Mom and Dad’s bedroom, where we would crawl up in their bed and beg them to get up so we could go see what Santa had brought us.
What a thrill it was to dash into the living room and check to see if Santa’s milk and cookies were gone – and they always were. And then the excitement exploded as we spotted the gifts Santa had left for us. My sister and I always got the same thing, and through the years, I can remember getting Barbies, dolls and doll clothes, strollers and high chairs, baseball bats, roller skates, board games and a pogo stick.
Many years ago, my parents started another tradition when they invited two of my mom’s sisters, who were on their own and didn’t have any plans for Christmas Eve, to join us for our celebration. That tradition continues still, although my dad and one of my aunts are gone now. Each year, we continue to make new memories, and we always reminisce about Christmases past and the loved ones who are no longer with us.
And all these years later, I’m happy to say that Santa still never bypasses my sister and me!
Want more nostalgia from the Capper's Farmer family? Check out Capper's Farmer Christmas Traditions and share your own in the comments below!