Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa's Elves Roar Their Approval

The First Gift of Christmas Is a Cactus?

Traditions aren’t a huge part of my family’s Christmas celebration. When the kids had to share family traditions during school holiday celebrations, I was at a loss. Um . . . is wrapping gifts until 4 a.m. a Christmas tradition? I’m not one for elaborate decorations or hiding elves or giving gifts on certain days leading up to Christmas. Getting everything together before everyone woke Christmas Day was about all I could handle. Until I started baking what we call Lucia Bread every year, I pretty much made things up as we went along. Kept them guessing, I suppose.
One tradition that evolved was reading The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg every Christmas Eve. We still read it over iChat, sharing the book’s pictures, and we each hear the bell at the story’s end. My favorite part of the book is when the first gift of Christmas is chosen, and “the elves roared their approval.” Shortly thereafter, Santa leaves the North Pole and Christmas officially begins.
Is it July, August, September . . . when the Christmas season officially begins in America? Retailers eager to squeeze every cent from consumers start the marathon earlier and earlier. Although I’m not running the consumption race, I do take note of when the season starts for me. As in The Polar Express when Santa holds the bell high and announces “The first gift of Christmas,” I note nature’s gift when my Christmas Cactus presents its first bloom. Christmas starts for me on that day—in fact, this day—when the pink blossom unfurls and I see the petals shimmer like pink satin ribbons. A splendid gift, indeed. I can hear the elves roar their approval.

You can check out The Polar Express at your local library, or purchase it here: Reading it Christmas Eve is a splendid tradition:

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