Usually after a long day of ping pong we would all stumble upstairs, loud and famished. We'd usually get in trouble for being too loud and possibly waking up the infant members of the family. We'd crowd in the kitchen and dig through the fridge and freezer, usually ending up with vanilla ice cream cones and chocolate syrup. But these just weren't your standard ice cream cones. Oh no. They were the cake cones with the flat bottom. We'd pile scoops of ice cream on top and then poke a finger through the middle. In that hole made by the finger, we'd pour in chocolate syrup. And then the magic would happen. As the ice cream is eaten, the chocolate syrup with pool down in the bottom of the cone. Ah yes, good messy times.
And then we'd all lay out sleeping bags in the living room. Since there were about 10 of us, it was sorta a tight squeeze. My two elder female cousins would always claim the couches leaving the rest of us to tough it out on the hard floor. And there we'd lay, by the light of the Christmas tree and share ghost stories and jokes and try our hardest to not be the first one to fall asleep.
The gifts under the tree at my grandparents' house never amounted to much. My mom was one of 6 children and ultimately there were 17 grandchildren. My grandparents were not wealthy people by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think that I can recall even one gift that I ever received from them on Christmas morning. But I do remember those moments. And so many others. And that's what I hope to give my children on this Christmas morning, and the Christmas mornings in the future. Moments, memories. Despite painstakingly picking out gifts and obsessing over them, in the end I won't care if they don't remember them 20 years from now. But I DO care about them remembering being together, baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, staying up late to play with new toys, having trouble falling asleep the night before Christmas, going to the Christmas Eve service at church and coming home to pizza and unwrapping stocking stuffers, reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, dressing up like Mary, eating more sweets than should be allowed, and so much more. If they remember those moments, then it will be a very Merry Christmas indeed.