The best packages are wrapped in newsprint

I believe in Santa Claus.

I may be 60 years old but I still believe in Santa Claus.

My mom used to wake us at the crack of dawn and position everyone at the top of the stairway of our two-story house.

Dad was in the den, getting the record player going to belt out “Joy to the World” and other Christmas favorites.

Mind you, at one time there were eight of us in the household with my parents, grandmother, my sister and I as well as three cousins who had come to live with us.

On cue, we all had to sing “Joy to the World” as we marched down the stairway and made our way to the library / den.

We made a “joyful noise” even if we weren’t in tune, especially at that time of the morning.

The library/den was a wood-paneled room that had a large bay window. Each year a magnificent Scotch Pine took center stage in the window so its vast array of lights could be enjoyed both inside and outside the house.

Some folks like to decorate in special styles with all ornaments in theme.

Ours was what you call “eclectic” - we had old ornaments, new fancy ones, and a variety of handmade treasures crafted from styrofoam balls adorned with glitter and pipe cleaner hooks. I think I liked the handmade ones the best as they shone with the love and artistry of six-year-olds.

Over the years the lights changed from hot or even bubbling bulbs to tiny safe lights. Still, they glistened.

In the week or so before Christmas, the floor beneath the tree would be covered with a white sheet (I suppose to replicate snow). Each of us would slip in and place our presents on the sheet until there was little “snow” to be seen.

The stockings which had hung on the fireplace were now bulging. They were laid down in a row.

We could easily tell which ones were ours. Each of us had one that had been “ours” for all remembrance. Mine was red with appliques. My sister’s was knitted red, white and green.

I knew that Santa had been working late at night to fill those stockings as we always went to midnight service at our Episcopal church and those stockings were empty when we returned after midnight.

Each stocking had an orange in the toe.

Candy, dried fruit, and trinkets were traditional “stuffers”.

As we munched on dried apricots, my father handed out the presents one-by-one and we all delighted in watching the others open their gifts.

Mom made sure we each had a sheet of paper and a pen to write down what we had received and who had given it so that thank you notes could be written later. Those lists were great later in the morning when we tried to sort out our pile of items.

Once all the major packages were open, there were several “special” packages my father handed out.

These particular packages were from Santa Claus.

My father was a newspaper publisher, just like me. These special packages were always wrapped in black-and-white newsprint.

Sometimes they would have a colored bow stuck to the top.

In them would be special jewelry or some item that was incredibly special.

Somehow, I always got “exactly” what I wished for.

Often these gifts were not on our Christmas wish lists but became the most special items in our lives.

Santa Claus knew what we wanted even if we didn’t.

Over time our lives have changed and our Christmas traditions are different as I now have two grown, married sons and am blessed with five grandchildren. My parents’ spirits give sparkle to the lights on the tree.

The magic of Christmas still happens long after the littlest ones have gone to bed.

On Christmas morning, I still try to get the family to make a joyful noise, even if it is off-key.

Santa still puts an orange in the toe of each of the stockings.

Brightly wrapped boxes still cover the floor and hide the sheet of “snow”.

And under whatever Christmas tree is “ours” for the day, at least a few packages are wrapped in newsprint.

Those are the ones wrapped by Santa Claus.