Every Christmas morning for the past 18 years, my children waited at the top of the stairs until Joe and I gave the thumbs-up to come down and see what Santa brought.
Of course, we made the kids wait a few minutes longer than necessary. Their excitement bumped up a few levels and I took an extra few moments to reflect.
Thank you, God, for these children. Thank you, God, for the provision to give them Christmas presents. Thank you, God, for the gift of your son, Jesus. Help me, God, to remember and teach my children the value of your gift, which is greater than anything under the green Christmas tree this morning.
Next came the thumbs-up, and with a squeal, they’d butt-slide as fast as they could, their eyes growing wider with each step. Then they’d stand and stare for a few seconds, all smiley and sparkly-eyed, their minds buzzing as they took it all in.
One year, we came up with a plan to open the gifts in our stockings first. One at a time, we’d each get a package, open it, and share. Then we’d open our other gifts, one at a time. I liked the slower pace of gift-opening, extending the moments far into the morning.
This past Christmas, my munchkins were 18 and 20 years old, and still they waited at the top of the stairs. Perhaps they wanted some things to remain the same, even in the middle of change. Alex is away at college and Jenna will be starting college within the year, their descent down the stairs extending out the front door into their new lives. Unknown adventures in their futures hold more excitement than wondering if Santa showed up.
Maybe it was my imagination, but Alex and Jenna lingered a teeny bit longer at the top of the stairs this year.
Perhaps they were confident Santa wouldn’t disappoint, and they were enjoying their time together, just the two of them. My momma-heart swells with joy to see the friendship these two adults of mine have formed. I wondered, though, if maybe they didn’t want to stop being at the top of the stairs.
I’m not sure when we won’t have our top-of-the-stairs tradition any more. Maybe it’ll stop when there are boyfriends or girlfriends in the mix, or maybe when they can’t come home for Christmas because they live so far away, or perhaps, just perhaps, it’ll be because they’ll be standing at the bottom of the stairs so their own children can wait at the top, anticipating the thumbs-up sign.