One of the childhood memories I cherish most is how my parents dealt with three children anxiously waiting for the Christmas insanity to begin on Christmas Eve. The time between putting up the tree, cleaning the house, preparing the food, setting up the fancy tableware and the arrival of the guests.
As a child, this was an endless time span.
Literally the hardest waiting phase ever.
Even longer than the one at the oculist’s.
Little did we know how short the hours had been for our parents.
We never knew.
We never knew about them jumping into their carefully chosen clothes last minute, probably cursing their asses off about nosey and noisy relatives to enter their home.
We never knew about my mom still stirring something in the kitchen, while my father tried to hide from her instructions on how to not stir up another mess.
We never knew.
We lay in the living room under the tree gazing at the TV.
I tried to recall which movies we watched, but I can’t. There was the DDR one about a heart turned cold. Any other than that, it’s all blank. Sheer excitement about Father Christmas coming that night must have affected my usually well-working memory. It’s exactly this excitement I remember so fondly.
Thanks to my parents for never letting us know the fuss they went trough.
Now that I am a parent, I know the magic they worked.
Now that I am a grown-up, how do I make the magic work again?
I still want it. Child at heart and everything.
This year I tried various ways of getting into the mood and recreating the childish Christmas excitement.
The first step was to be the magic.
Do you remember the advent calendar you had as a child? I had two.
One was sewn and stitched by my mom. A fat Santa – don’t tell Kurt Russel – on an almost snow yellowish background. Sweets were tied to little golden rings. Every morning a bit of surprise. One year my parents put little bundles of puzzle pieces on the calendar. Can’t recall the motive, can only recall how happy I was with this one. While the fat Santa got lost during my divorce, I have my brother’s in possession now. Green tree on unspectacular brown.
The other one was the real magic. Every morning my grandmother sent enchanted ‚Tütchen‘ to our rooms, bags or plates.
We never knew how.
When my son was born, she whispered the secret into my mum’s ear, so that she can send him enchanted ‚Tütchen‘. While my son might read this – I will have to wait until the birth of my first grandchild before she’ll share the secret. Until then I am my mother’s secret little accomplice and helper. The magic I do.
Once you leave childhood behind, advent calendars become a rare thing. It’s nice to see the happiness in your child’s eyes, yet it’s not the same as waking up every morning searching for your ‚Tütchen‘ or opening another door and see whats behind. Mr Darcy seems to know about my need for magic and agreed to do calendars for each other. Last year’s really rocked.
This year I exchanged calendars with the one person loving Christmas as much as I do. Mrs Kolumna brought back a little of that Christmas magic. Let’s hope I could raise a little magic for her, too.
Then I tried baking. The focus lies on the word tried. Ambitious as I am, I took my mother’s cutters. I chose a recipe from my grandmother’s baking book. I used my great aunt’s rolling pin.
Still, I failed.
I have absolutely no talent for baking or biscuits whatsoever.
Nevertheless, I have the tendency to shorten the life span of a biscuits. Same goes for biscuit dough.
Both are gone.
Dough and ambition.
Which left me with the most obvious way to work up the magic:
I opened the Christmas movie season with the one displaying what an actual Christmas Eve feels like.
It didn’t automatically put me into the mood, though I got a pretty good idea why my mom fell for Bruce Willis.
The next date I had with Kevin McAllister. My pupils love him. He strangely reminds me of my nephew and I congratulate my brother on the years to come. The most magical thing about this movie is, how Kevin’s parents ever afforded a house like this and that it still makes me watch in awe when the wet bandits walk through mayhem. I was 12 when I first lived through Kevin’s adventure. Since I’ve become a mom ten years ago, my focus lies on the mother’s ordeal and it makes me cry whenever they embrace again.
I tried a few new ones. Non of them will make it into the top ten of my Christmas-movie-list, though I have to admit that ‚The spirit of Christmas‘ woke up a lot of romantic thoughts. Just like the other movie I can’t seem to stop watching: The Holiday.
Love the actors, love the very realistic story, love the setting.
And here the Christmas feeling kicks in.
Too much snow, too much coincidence and far fetched developments in the plot.
We all long for a little magic. If it’s not happening for us, we at least need a tale about someone else’s to be told.
Love Actually tells us many of them simultaneously and reminds us constantly of the love that is around. Although Hugh Grant’s dance through Downing street, Colin Firth’s dive into another lake and Liam Neeson’s performance as a match maker catch me anytime I watch it, it’s James Stewart who makes me fall in love.
Yes, it’s a wonderful life.
The movie takes me by the hand and walks me through all the emotions possible. I am frustrated with George Bailey not leading the life he planned for himself.
I stop breathing when he and Mary are on the phone with Sam Wainright and the amorous tension between the two of them is too much to bear.
I cheer at their success and their helping others move into their own homes.
It breaks my heart whenever I see uncle Billy fall to pieces in his office, his little squirrel nibbling on his arm. That’s the real low for me on the emotional ride the movie takes me on.
I watch in horror while George Bailey discovers what Bedford Falls would be like without him.
And then the miracle happens.
Everyone he has helped in his life, returns the favour. No one forgot.
In the end George finds a copy of Tom Sawyer. In the English version it says, no man is a failure who has friends.
Ein Mann, der Freund hat, ist nie ein Versager.
Having this in mind while walking through life, I dare say I understood what being rich means.
Which brings me to today. Right now we are sitting on our couch, the tree’s lights reflecting in our TV. I’m enjoying the luxury of finishing this text while watching someone else walk through Christmas insanity. No one does it better than Clark Griswold. The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation will help me through the cooking and cleaning. So will the wine I keep in the kitchen for emergencies. The Griswolds will make me laugh while I do magic for my son.
It’s Christmas Eve.
I’ll try not to ruin dinner. In case I do, I’ll provide a story to be told for the years to come.
I’ll try to make my son believe in Santa for another year. If I fail, he’ll at last acknowledge the effort I made and finally know I chose all his perfect gifts.
I’ll wait for snow and run to the window whenever someone claims to have seen a snow flake.
I’ll try to fit into any dress fitting the occasion. In case I fail, which is probably going to happen, I’ll remember that persons attending my magical Christmas Eve party know me since I wore the worst clothes possible as they were chosen by my mom.
I’ll try not to let my kid know about my worries.
I’ll try not to shout, drink and swear.
I’ll try to be a little angel. Ok, at least an angel.
I’ll try to make it all magic. Like my parents did.
I hope, I chose the right movie.