If I could have one thing for Christmas this year, I wouldn’t ask for a car. I wouldn’t ask for world peace. I wouldn’t ask for a winning lottery ticket.
I would ask to feel like my 10-year-old self on Christmas just one more time.
I would ask for the smell of the Scotch pine my dad would always get. No spiky, scentless short needle trees for him. He was a long needle guy all the way, and so am I.
I would ask for one more chance to trim the tree with everybody, even though dad would always growl at us for bunching the ornaments too close and we kids (six of us) would always squabble over who got to hang what ornament where. Dad’s gone now. So is brother Dan. I often don’t see the rest at Christmas because the U.P. is so far away. I miss them all terribly all year, but especially at Christmas.
I would ask for one more tree squint. Tree squinting – where you fuzz your vision and the bulbs double in size and shoot daggers of light in all directions – was a thing I did as a kid. For some reason, it made me feel peaceful and tingly all at once, which is an odd combination.
I would ask for one more 5 a.m. Christmas morning paper route run with my dad. I used to deliver the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel. The Christmas Day editions were huge and the snow was usually neck deep to a little kid. (I grew up in the Upper Peninsula and never, ever knew a brown Christmas.) Dad – who wouldn’t do this any other day of the year, rain, sleet or blizzard – would drive me around so I’d be done by 6:30, which was present time.
I would ask for one more chance to sit breathlessly atop the stairs with my brothers and sister, waiting, waiting, waiting for mom and dad to give us the all-clear to hit the living room. (For some reason, they always made a big show of going down first to make sure Santa came.)
I would ask for one more Heller present-fest. You’ve never seen the likes, trust me. We did it up big. By the time we were done, you couldn’t’ see the floor. Sometimes you’d step on the dog.
I would ask for one more Christmas with my grandmothers, Rose and Jean, who would always – like my mom and dad – insist on being the last to open their gifts because, to them, watching the kids open theirs was the best part of Christmas. At the time, I didn’t understand how that could be so, but I got it the second I had kids of my own. Now I do the same thing.
I would ask for one more huge Heller Christmas breakfast (we went to church the night before). One more all-day, all-night game-fest. One more huge family dinner (thanks, mom). One more chance to cook a steak (his annual gift) for my dog Barney. One more endless roaring fire. (Dad would burn most of the wrapping paper and boxes.) One more chance to smile, laugh, argue and bicker with my siblings.
But most of all, I would like – just one more time – to feel the wonder, magic and excitement of Christmas the way I felt it back then. Every sight, sound, smell and emotion. The good and the not-so-good.
I miss it more with each passing year. Can you give me that back, Santa? Just one time?
I’ll be waiting. And hoping.
Image via YouTube