This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Anticipation."
I remember when I would eagerly anticipate Christmas - even more than my birthday - since it falls in January - the family worn-out, overspent from the holidays -- the birthday celebration usually seemed more of an afterthought. Sort of a coda to Christmas. I suspect now, that my mother bought my birthday present - usually clothes - at the after-Christmas sales. Nothing wrong with that - it just meant Christmas was when I was more likely to get what I asked for - when I anticipated getting a new toy or a doll (Chatty Cathy, I think, the year pictured here. Only to be frightened by her strange voice after I pulled the cord. Yikes! She was scary. I hid her in my drawer, hee hee - they should never have let me watch Twilight Zone! Hmm - actually, now that I think about it, I don't think they so much let me watch it, as I remember sneaking into the living room to watch from behind the couch). Where was I? Oh, yeah - anticipating a game or a stuffed animal - a new book! Crayons!! But the gifts were just the icing on the cake. The whole month before Christmas was filled with things to anticipate.
Christmas was the time for candy making and cookie baking - and eating! Helping Nannie, my grandma, make fudge and potato candy (that was her name for it - I've since heard it called peanut butter pinwheels). None of which could be eaten right away. You had to wait for the candy to 'set.' Wait for the cookies or pies to cool. Or if earmarked for a gift - wait for another batch!
Christmas meant more cousins to play with. I remember trying to watch the clock, for the time they'd said my cousins from out of town would arrive. Since digital clocks hadn't been invented yet, and I had only a limited grasp on clock reading yet, it seemed to take even longer than the hour I sat there, watching that little hand, creeping, crawling, ever so slowly - around to the twelve. The anticipation was so thick, I practically flew out the front door, when I heard their car pull up in the driveway. I don't think my cousins knew what hit them.
There were so many things to anticipate about Christmas - caroling songs to sing; Christmas stories to read. Parties and pageants to parade in, at school and church. Wearing angel robes made from sheets, with wire hanger halos. The children's Christmas shows on TV (that only came on once a year! No DVD's, no TiVo or even VCR's - this was your one and only chance to see Charlie Brown; Rudolph or Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol). Long days to play during Christmas vacation. The visit to Santa (the next year, the local department store used this one in the store to advertise their Santa pictures - much to my mother's pride, and my embarrassment. Luckily, I'd grown enough, none of the other kids seemed to recognize me. Now, here I am years later, showing it to the world - I'd never have anticipated that!). Decorating the Christmas tree; there's something wonderful and special about those little glittery globes, especially if you only see them once a year, that makes you really anticipate seeing them again.
I can still picture the advent calendar we had when I was a little girl. It didn't have candy or pop-ups or anything that would make it seem fancy nowadays. It was just a little cardboard advent calendar. With all of the windows closed it showed a frosty winter day with trees and kids building a snowman. But I loved how it changed from this winter scene, to the Nativity. As you opened each day of the advent calendar there would be a haystack; an owl. A chicken. A goat, a cow. Next a donkey. A horse. Gradually you'd work your way up to the people: the shepherds, the three wise men, one by one. You knew when you were getting close to Christmas, after you'd find Joseph. The next day, Mary. Finally, came the day you'd open the little door to see a star - you knew Who was coming up next. At last it was Christmas eve!
My mom allowed us to open one gift each Christmas eve. It was always either a pair of pajamas or a nightgown. Never the less, I still anticipated that gift wholeheartedly. I carried that tradition over with my girls, though they got to open two gifts - the other gift being an ornament, in anticipation of the day when they'd have a Christmas tree of their own to decorate.
After getting into the new pj's, I'd always think that I'd never be able to fall asleep; I couldn't wait for Christmas morning. But after much tossing and turning, somehow I always did. Though the next morning, I'd wake up bright and early (sometimes, much too early!).
Finally the day had arrived! At last the anticipation of so much fun would turn into participation. But as much fun as it was to participate, somehow the anticipation seemed even sweeter. As long as something is still in the future, in your imagination, it's possible to believe that anything could happen! It still could. You never know, maybe this will be the Christmas I get that pony. I've been anticipating her for years...
For more tales of "Anticipation," see Sunday Scribblings.