It’s early in the morning, barely light out. This is my favorite part of Christmas, sitting downstairs with just the tree lights and silence, waiting for Mike to wake up so we can have breakfast and open our presents together. It reminds me of my childhood Christmas mornings running out to the living room to find that Santa had come during the night.
My parents would decorate the drugstore in December, but not much at home. Usually, tissue paper stars and dreidels of Hanukkah and the menorah always seemed to come earlier in the month. After Hanukkah was over, there would be pretty candles and decorations we kids made in school displayed along the fireplace mantle in the center of our living room, and electric candles in the windows. On Christmas Eve, we would hang up our stockings, leave cookies and milk with a note for Santa, then go to bed. We knew Santa wouldn’t come to a house where children were still awake.
Daddy would come home after closing the store at 9 and making deliveries, bringing our tree, and all the presents. My parents must have stayed up most of the night. They decorated the tree and filled our stockings, left presents under the tree, and a thank-you note from Santa. When we got up in the morning, the whole living room was lit and decorated. It was magical.
That, in retrospect, was the best gift of all. Waking up on Christmas morning to find that scene before me still feels magical. Even though I do it myself now, and even though we eventually did it together as a family on Christmas Eve, I have never forgotten being that child who KNEW Santa came to our house on Christmas Eve. It’s the excitement I still feel waiting for Santa every year at the fire station. I feel it every Christmas morning. I know that Santa is real. I believe and know it with all my heart.
I don’t remember many of the wrapped presents, although they must have been special and dearly desired at the time. The 1950s were modest. Books and a drawing pad, a new box of Crayola crayons, a game, a new toothbrush, always an orange in the toe of our stockings and a candy cane hooked over the top. One big present — a doll or a sled or ice skates. It was wonderful. It was enough.The presents have never meant Christmas to me. It’s always been the lights. Going to church on Christmas Eve, then coming home and sitting quietly in the dark of my living room, watching the Christmas tree lights and ornaments with the view of our woods outside our windows, is all I need.
A couple of things.
There will be a service at St. Augustine’s Church on Friday, Dec. 28, at 11 am, to honor and remember Mike Minkiewicz. After the service, there will be a reception at the West Tisbury library. His family will welcome everyone, their memories and stories about Mike. Please attend one or both.
Come to the library for free soup and bread lunches on Thursday, Friday, and Monday, 11:45 to 12:45. Then stay for a movie at 1 pm. Popcorn is free, too. The Lego Club will meet on Saturday from 2:30 to 4:30. Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Class will meet this Monday at 11:30 at the Howes House. The library will close early on Monday, at 5 pm, and remain closed on New Year’s Day.
Happy New Year. Don’t forget to write 2019.