The door to the jewelry store was locked as soon as the clock struck closing time on Christmas Eve. Jewelry was put away, money was counted, the employees milled around to wait for their gifts that were always handed out after closing. My sister and I were twitchy to get out of there so Christmas could start.
Christmas Eve was always spent at Grannie’s. It was tradition. It was how Christmas started.
After we got home from the store, my parents seemed to mill around for hours. My grandparents and Aunt and Uncle knew to wait for us, that we would be there as soon as we could. It seemed like my parents were never ready – always having to throw together some last minute gifts and having to pack the car and grab the food. I’m sure they were more organized than I remember, but it seemed like it took a short eternity to get to Grannie’s house.
Over the river and through the woods we went, with a trunk full of gifts, a food dish or two, and butterflies in our stomachs.
I’d say we had a small, tight family. There was Grannie and Grandaddy, our mom and dad and the two of us, and my aunt and uncle and their two sons. Small and mighty we were.
Part of the magic of Christmas growing up was starting the holidays in The Christmas Room.
We would all arrive, us late as usual, and the moms (women) would take to the kitchen and prepare the spread of carbs and desserts. I think there was some protein in there, too, but I stayed far away from all that! Was better to build up our energy stores with dressing and biscuits than to waste time eating turkey.
The men would count the pictures around Grannie and Grandaddy’s house to see which family “they liked best.”
The kids would ask every 3.7 seconds, “WHEN ARE WE GOING TO EAAATTTTT???”
Finally it was time to bless the food. Uncle Gary, being a good Southern Baptist Deacon, always had the honor. We wrapped around the table, hands held, parents trying to separate the kids to avoid the inevitable giggle-fest that organically happened about midway through the blessing. Their attempts to stop it were in vain.
Giggles commenced. First the kids, then the dads, and finally once we all proclaimed “AMEN” the whole group erupted in laughter.
Dinner was had – adults at the table near the door to The Christmas Room, kids in the kitchen at the small table. We ate as fast as humanly possible. There was no time for seconds or talking. Eat. As. Fast. As. You. Can.
And the parents ate as slooooowly as they could. In fact, sometimes it seemed like they weren’t even TRYING to eat.
So we waited. And waited.
After being as patient as possible, we would start hovering around the door.
Much like the door in Willy Wonka, this door was the way to the magic. Inside this room, FUN happened. Inside this room, Santa has already stopped by.
It was the door to Christmas.
Eventually, after hovering over this door and offering to take the adults’ dishes to the kitchen, after the adults moseyed their way to get their cameras and coffee, after we all went to the bathroom because there could be NO breaks, after ALL that…
the dads went in the room to “check things out.