When you read this, I will have been to Los Angeles and back, celebrating Christmas with our three California offspring, their spouses and children. I can’t tell you about it, though, since I’m writing this a week before I leave. Oh, bother, as Winnie the Pooh would say. It’s a bit of a muddle, he would add, being a Bear of Very Little Brain.
As a child, I loved the A.A. Milne books about Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet et al. As a grown-up, I still love them, though I prefer the original books and illustrations rather than the Disney versions. I know – color me old.
The first Christmas after I met Bing – we were both college students then – I was horrified to learn he’d never read Winnie the Pooh. I decided right then he must have had a deprived childhood and it was up to me to make up for that. So I gave him a carefully wrapped (though not beautifully wrapped, since the Able-to-Create-Lovely-Packages-with-Tissue-Paper gene was left out of me) copy of The House at Pooh Corner.
I put it under his family Christmas tree in Chicago, then boarded the train for Iowa. I found out years later that as soon as I was out of sight, he opened his present, read the first three chapters, then carefully re-wrapped it and put it back under the tree until Christmas morning.
Somehow, I don’t think he was as crazy about the book as I was. I still don’t know if he ever read beyond the first three chapters. I told him if he’d waited to open it on Christmas morning as he was supposed to, he would have been enchanted with it. Sneaking peeks at Christmas presents ahead of time is a terrible thing. I’m convinced the Sneak-Peeker is punished by being disappointed in the gift, no matter how wonderful it is. Then he has to pretend happy surprise when he opens it again with all the family looking on.
Of course, I don’t know this from my own experience, since I was a perfect child and never peeked. However, our five offspring inherited their father’s Sneak-Peeker gene and I had to be in constant “Don’t touch the presents under the tree” mode for weeks before the big day arrived.
I once was awakened at three in the morning by the rustle of wrapping paper. I tiptoed downstairs and found Meg, age five, busily trying to re-wrap a present. I’m not sure why I happened to have a camera with me then (who knows why they do things at three in the morning?), but I did and we still have the picture of her guilty little face as she turned to look at me.
I love remembering those Christmases past when the children were little and filled with awe at the lights and carols, the nativity scenes with the Baby Jesus, and, of course, Santa and his reindeer. It was – and is – a magical time.
I hope all of you had a magical Christmas.
Even if you’re a Sneak-Peeker.
Some of my favorite people were – and are.