When I was a child, Christmas meant one thing: presents!

I did my best to be good, but I always felt a bit less than perfect, hoping Santa didn’t actually know my every transgression.

My brother and I would not be able to sleep on Christmas Eve with the anticipation ramping up our heartbeats and any bit of sound jolting us awake. Mom and Dad would check on us before they went to bed. If we were still awake, my dad would offer us the “guaranteed sleep inducer”, but we had to agree to the treatment. Every year, I would hold off on the “cure”, and every year I would end up asking for it.

He would head to the bathroom and bring a small, blue jar of Vicks Vaporub into my bedroom. “Are you sure?” he would say.

With our agreement, he would dip his finger into the gel and wipe a goodly swath across each cheek. At that point, the pungent fumes would make it almost impossible to open my eyes.

I hated it, but it worked and I always ended up getting a good night’s sleep. Later I began to suspect that it was a ploy to make sure we would be unable to sneak down the hall and catch Santa in his Christmas Eve deliveries.

We had a rule for Christmas morning. No one could leave their bedrooms until the stroke of 7 a.m.. That was my father’s bit of Christmas authority and he enforced it with a reward. He set an armed alarm clock in the middle of the hallway outside our bedrooms. No one was allowed to even open their doors until the alarm went off the next morning.

To further ensure our obedience and to heighten the excitement, the person who got to the alarm first would open the first present!

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My brother and I would go to great lengths to ensure the alarm clock was precisely equidistant from each bedroom doorknob. No wonder we couldn’t sleep. That, and we were both on guard to any sound of the other making illegal adjustments to enhance winning.

Mostly, our presents were the homemade variety or something we needed rather than the mounds of plastic and electronic toys kids get today.

My grandkids have learned to live with a grandma that is not a “Toy Grandma”. I like to make them pajamas and give them books. It is no surprise that they are more taken with the toys they get than their pajamas. But, at the end of the day, they will curl up in bed to read their books before slipping into dreamland in their new pajamas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Dianne Roth is a mother, grandmother, teacher, and freelance writer. She can be reached at: baglady@cmug.com


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