While Christmas no longer means throwing the covers off and dashing downstairs barefoot and pajama-clad to see the gifts left from Santa under the tree—it still means so much to me.
It means all the adults in my world have the day off. It means cranking up Nat King Cole, Straight No Chaser, Michael Bublé, and Mariah Carey next to my mom as we bake an assortment of cookies, the same cookies we’ve baked together since I was two. It means sitting next to my parents at church the night before, all of us taking in the choir’s rendition of “Silent Night.” It means calling my family to hear a cheerful “Merry Christmas!” transported to my ears from 1,000 miles away.
It is visiting the friends who have become more like family, sitting around the fire in their living room, chatting with their cousins, grandparents, uncles, and aunts whom I’ve become accustomed to sharing a Christmas Eve with every year. It is also yet more Christmas cookie baking days before so that my friend’s little brother can leave out colorful and iced cookies for Santa, for whom we clean their kitchen and living room each year. It is listening to him demand that we snuff out the fire so it doesn’t singe Santa’s red and white coat.
It is also my family’s tradition in the post-Santa years of opening presents on Christmas Eve. This itself is a hilarious feat, as we are all dressed in festive pajamas, trading off who opens presents first and who digs around in their stockings next. When I wake up on Christmas morning, I like to imagine all the children around the world rushing downstairs like I did years ago. I like to imagine them having pure Christmas joy on their faces, carrying out the tradition of believing in a man with a white beard and a big sack full of presents, flying around the world with at least one reindeer that has a red nose.
The season is also about remembering the little girl who believed just that 8 years ago. I like to believe that she is immortal, along with the spirit of Christmas itself.