I’m not in the habit of posting a column on Christmas Day. Indeed, for many years The Berkshire Eagle did not have a Christmas print edition. Today we have a weekend edition, and because Christmas is a weekend, here we are.
Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. However you greet the season, I send you my sincere greetings for a happy celebration.
This morning, I join you in the comfort of my electric lift chair, comfortably dressed in my nightgown and my bathrobe. Our tradition on Christmas morning is to gather by the fireplace, coffee in hand, and start the celebration with our Christmas stockings.
With five of our immediate family members – all fully vaxxed and boosted – we carefully remove the screen bottoms from the foyer.
The size of the stockings seems to be decreasing every year, but the number of gifts is increasing. Santa and his helpers try to stuff all kinds of little gifts into the hand-knitted stockings, made over the years as the family grows. Now we each have an overflow bag (a recyclable market tote because Santa is very waste-savvy), so it takes a long time to examine all the treasures.
I can’t predict exactly what will be in each stocking, but there are a few items that appear each year. There are sweets! Chocolate Santas and individually wrapped chocolates abound, and a candy cane hangs from the bottom edge. We used to have boxed chocolate oranges, but they’re getting harder and harder to find (I’m guessing they’re part of the cargo floating in cargo ships outside a port in California) .
There is always a small toy, like a small Lego set, and some people make a game of how quickly they can put their creation together. One year, everyone received a small animal to reassemble. They ran over tables and floors for hours, if not days after Christmas, until, sadly, they were lost under furniture or broken by careless feet.
Most years there is a new set of markers or colored pencils for everyone, which are especially popular with artists who enjoy the new rage to color intricate designs.
Back then, we all had coloring books, which kept us busy on cold or rainy days.
We learned to stay in the lines, to improve our motor skills when we just thought we were having fun. I liked being able to choose the colors for the photos of flowers and houses. I once had a series of pictures of birds with colored pencils. I trace my love of birds back to this set of images, which I have meticulously completed and according to the color chart provided. I kept them all neatly in their original box for years (the box was pink).
Now that we are all of playing age, Santa is giving out scratch lottery tickets and a lucky penny to scratch with. We all end up earning at least a penny! The tickets are a way of remembering my mother, who started the tradition, and who loved gambling. We’ve always had family bets on the World Series, Kentucky Derby, and similar sporting events. I imagine her now, sitting on her heavenly cloud, watching us scratch each other and waiting for the great victory.
Once the stockings are emptied, we take a break to have brunch, so we will have enough energy to face the mountain of presents sitting by the Christmas tree. I like to take a moment to reflect on the palpable heat in the house which is not entirely due to the central heating.
I hope you, too, enjoy your morning by the warm light of candles or a tree, surrounded by those you love the most.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle donor.