When I was a kid, awaiting Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve was agony. Too excited to sleep, the night seemed to drag on indefinitely. When dawn broke, our parents had a strict rule that we had to wait until the unfathomably late hour of 8 a.m. before we knocked on their bedroom door. No running downstairs with parental supervision at 6 a.m.! This was an organized affair.
Our parents were not early risers and Christmas morning was no exception. Once they were awake, Dad always went downstairs first and see if Santa had stopped by. Usually he would tease that he wasn’t sure Santa had been to our house showing us a trinket left on the steps and wondering if our house had somehow been overlooked. Our parents would then talk to one another prolonging the suspense. Finally we were allowed into the living room to find our presents each grouped by name. What we didn’t know is that dad and Grandpa Schleich had spent half the night assembling any toys that required it (generally those were for my brothers). Our grandparents usually spent the night, and sure enough, Grandpa would swear he’d heard the patter of reindeer feet on the roof.
Like many families, we left Santa a note and something to eat. Unlike cookies and milk, our tradition came from father’s German heritage in the form of a kraut runza along with the obligatory glass of milk. Unbeknownst to us, Grandpa Schleich had happily consumed the treat baked by Grandma. There was always a thank you note for the goodies.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I could peacefully sleep through the night. I imagine that children all over the world experience that same excitement, anxiously waiting for Santa’s delivery, wondering if morning will ever come. Of course it does, and traditions and cultures make every Christmas unique.