I've had such trouble getting posts up lately that I decided it was safest to focus my final Christmastime thoughts on the morning after.
Many places have made for a special holiday in my life, but none matches the house in North Jersey where my father's parents lived during my first decade. There were decorations, stockings, relatives, carolers, and gifts under what in memory at least is a majestic tree. So much could be written about the annual anticipations of Christmas in Wyckoff — my sister and me waiting by the curb for Santa to arrive in the company of firefighters, handing out candy to the neighborhood kids; trying to fall asleep, since we knew that the jolly old elf wouldn't return to leave presents until we did (but also hoping that his visit would awaken us so that we could finally catch him in the act); preparing for dinner, then waiting for Dad and Grandpa to finish their post-meal couch time so that we could roughhouse or enlist their help in explaining, assembling, and playing with what had been opened earlier that day.
For me, though, the afterglow of Dec. 26th was just as magical as the eve of the 24th and the daylong festivities of the 25th.
Children have a special ability to wake up early on such occasions as Saturdays, birthdays, and Christmas. And while on Christmas morning nothing can be done until the grownups are gathered, that morning after allows a quiet communion with the holiday's unwrapped bounty. Of course I can think of plenty of gifts that spurred activity — physical (building-and-knocking-down, pretending to fly) or mental (trying to outsmart Dad). But the warmest recurring reverie has me crawling into a plush chair next to the tree with one of the oversized comics of the era known as treasury editions and experiencing a classic Batman adventure while toasted by the sunlight streaming through the large windows behind me. Heaven won't be worth its name if we're not able to revisit such moments when we get there.
Whether you lit candles for Chanukah or Kwanzaa, observed Christmas as the birth of a messiah or simply a time to acknowledge life's blessings, commemorated the winter solstice, or just enjoyed others' enjoyment of the holiday hubbub, I hope that your yuletide has been merry and bright.