Someone new just arrived! Loud shouts of "HEY! It's Gina!" or "HEY! It's Uncle Gords!" or "HEY! Laura's here!"
"Merry Christmas! Mele Kalikimaka!"
Hugs all around and "Puh thing!" which meant, "you're special, we're glad to see you, you look nice, we're proud of you" all in one. If there was a baby, he or she was passed around and kissed and tickled and fed.
"It's 11:30! C'mon you guys. Quiet down!"
When Grandpa was alive there were songs on his guitar or his ukulele.
We squished ourselves on the couch, cousins on the floor leaning on one another; uncles stood in the back with a Pepsi ready to duck out for a cigarette. Someone would be appointed the reading...The Christmas story from Luke 2 and then carols sung. What a joyful noise, a happy sound. Finally, it's midnight. We belt out the tune Mele Kalikimaka, followed by a gentler "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Someone prays. We are Thankful to God.
The quiet starts to pick up to a low din. Time to get up and stretch, grab a piece of fudge or a bite of chicken and rice. "Oldest to youngest or youngest to oldest?!" someone shouts.
It's decided - youngest to oldest. The baby is first. One by one we all open a gift. No one is left out. There are ooh's and aah's over each one, with the unspoken goal of every giver to make the recipient cry. Tears bring a chorus of "Puh thing!" from every auntie and uncle. We could count on at least one person, if not several, opening a Green Bay Packer this or that.
Those were the days, the Christmases of long ago.
It's different now. A Glariada Christmas is a mother's memory to my children. They don't know the comfort of those precious times.
What will my children remember years from now of their Santos Christmases?
Will they remember visiting the Christmas tree farm to find the perfect tree? Tamales and pupusas and sparkling cider? Sleeping under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve?
Will they remember that Sophia did the gift wrapping resorting to pillowcases and scarves when the paper ran out?
I'm sure they won't forget hanging the Nativity quilt every year, and wishing for snow, wishing for snow, wishing for snow. Most likely they will think fondly, I hope, on playing their violin, or singing or reciting at our Church service.
I hope that they remember Christmas is a time to reflect on GOD WITH US, that the lights, gifts, music, food - all that makes up our celebration is not about us, but in celebration of HIM.
Thank you Father, for sending your Son, Jesus. This is indeed, a Merry Christmas.