When you live with nine children, even the most crusty curmudgeon cannot resist the magic of Christmas. As I clean and get ready for our adult children to come home from university and work in the city, it is nice to remember the magic of Christmases when they were little. In fact, the scent of magic is still in the air, especially as five grandbabies join our family!
It was still dark outside, way too early for my husband and I; we had worked to set up on Christmas Eve till 2:00 am. Although we couldn’t even pry our eyes open, we were smiling with contentment as we lay in bed, listening to the excited whispers and giggles of our three youngest children. They made their way down the front stairs whispering in awe because one of the older kids had intertwined multi-coloured lights around the banister, transforming the dark staircase into a magical pathway to the tree.
First, the trio ducked into the formal living room to see the presents for the first time and special candy canes on the tree. In our old farm-house, our bedroom was right above the kitchen and we had left the kitchen back stairs door open. Suddenly another excited gasp of surprise escaped their lips as they gazed in wonder around the transformed kitchen.
A gingerbread house, created at night when the littlest kids were sleeping, sat in the centre of the table with a fruit bowl, dishes of candies, nuts and, best of all, sugar cereal! The whole room was edged with coloured lights and Christmas towels, tablecloth, napkins, pot holders with bright red ribbons on all the door handles.
One year a friend at Madonna House, Martha, asked Alison what her favorite thing about Christmas was and she said,
Her answer shocked Martha but I was simply pleased. I understood that children notice and appreciate the small things. No detail escapes them. Without much extra cash during the year, they still to this day treasure every detail, ornament and treat that was and still is part of Christmas.
When a few of the oldest kids were in their mid to late teens, friends would ask to come over and set up with us. They would cart presents downstairs, arrange them, help fill 11 stockings and hang lights. They were intrigued by our large family with all the hustle and bustle and activity. It was never boring at our house The teens craved the joy and excitement of creating magic for younger children who did not receive many frills during the rest of the year. I think they also craved the sense of stability, of a family grounded in the old-fashioned values of mutual love and respect.