Due to excitement my littlest boy, Daniel, had trouble sleeping tonight, this eve of Christmas Eve. I invited him to sit in the recliner with me, and I turned out all the lights save those on the Christmas tree. After a quite busy day, we sat there in silence watching the colored lights blink, and I recalled how I used to love it when my daddy would make the lights blink on our real tree from the woods in Tennessee.

My oldest boy came out shortly, too, and with both of them for company, I gave in to nostalgia, remembering when Berto, my oldest, used to sneak out to catch Santa Claus and how he tried more doggedly than any of our children to encounter the big guy. Then, of course, in typical mama fashion, I reflected upon how many years had passed since our teenage son woke us up at midnight one Christmas and fussed and fumed for the next two hours, because he was certain Santa had come and wanted to go out to the tree immediately.

How many more of those exhausting but cute and memorable moments do I have with my little Daniel? I wondered a little desperately.

The problem with children is that the bigger they get, the more time flies and the more we parents are trying to pull back the years, scared that our opportunities for witnessing that miraculous thing called the joy of childhood are fast disappearing. We are left clutching at fairy dust and puppy dog tails and chalk drawings.

But joyful memories are everything, and we keep them as well as we can, editing them ever so gently to make them even shinier like fragile Christmas balls.

I'll remember the kids' sticky faces after licking the fudge spoon. I'll recall how my oldest daughter Ana and I sang carols with all our off-key hearts as I played my guitar. Ella, my youngest daughter, has an obsession with Batman that will tickle my heart long after she has outgrown it and long after Santa no longer brings her things in black and blue. Berto's fascination with St Nick, from whom he got his middle name because of his great-grandfather who was born on Christmas Day, will stay with me and warm my heart when my ears are so dull I can no longer hear the bell myself. Daniel, my baby, is still generating little hand-print memories, and I can only pray and have faith that I'll appreciate them as I should.

After spending this Christmas season vacillating between Bah! Humbugs and Fa-la-la-la-las, I think I am now finally, just in time for the big day, firmly in the region of joy and expectation, looking forward to the new memories to be made this Christmas.

So to you, my family, friends and readers, I say:

Merry Christmas! 

And in the classic words of Tiny Tim,

May God bless us, everyone!


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