By Shelley Murphy
My two sons spend weeks compiling their Christmas wish lists. Not me, each year my list is short and my number one Santa request is always the same: I wish for a holiday spent together with my family.
When my boys were toddlers, I took for granted our gathering together around the same Christmas tree and never imagined including my kids’ company on my holiday wish list.
My younger son attends college and my older son resides in another state, so this year we’re settling for celebrating the season over a long weekend.
It might be my new normal, but I still miss our old ordinary.
As elementary and eventually high school students, my boys counted down the days to their two-week recess. Then, when they started college, I began marking the days until they returned home for their month-long break.
I can’t wait until my kids come home for the holiday. When they arrive, we’ll spend as much time together as possible before they dash away; but the long weekend is short and the time flies in a flurry of fun.
My boys’ homecoming brings a frenzy of festivity and friends to our empty nest, transforming it into a merry and bright home.
In the nights before Christmas, I’ll notice many creatures stirring; my children won’t nestle in their beds until the wee hours of the morning; and with all the clatter, I won’t settle my brain for a long winter’s nap. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Decking the halls and preparing for St. Nick’s visit includes hanging the stockings by the chimney with care. As always, our stockings hang from the letters atop the mantle of the fireplace—letters arranged to spell wish.
Stringing the twinkling lights and hanging the shiny ornaments evokes memories of Christmases past, and as my mind wanders I envision a whimsical wish list. I believe in the magic of the season, but even the big guy in the red suit can’t fill these wishes:
I wish for my boys’ Christmas lists to be handwritten in crayon with pictures instead of high-tech texts with website links.
I wish said lists to include at least one massive Lego set; and after spending the morning constructing a galactic Star Wars ship, we’ll spend the afternoon digging through discarded paper and ribbons to find the missing mini Stormtrooper Lego bricks.
I wish after washing and folding countless loads of laundry that the clothes be placed in an upstairs dresser drawer instead of being packed into a piece of luggage.
I wish I still bought milk and cookies; and late at night on Dec. 24 I’d find myself laughing at my husband nibbling strategic bites of cookies and guzzling warm gulps of milk while I stuff the stockings.
I wish that before sunrise my boys would race down the hallway into our bedroom and beg my husband and me to hurry downstairs in hopes of finding toys under our tree straight from Santa’s sack.
I wish when my boys came home on their last day of school that their backpacks held a precious handmade ornament or holiday decoration with their tiny hand prints replicating reindeer antlers.
I wish my holiday shopping didn’t include buying only gifts that can pass through the TSA security checkpoint or fit into a duffle bag for the trip “home.”
I wish one of my boys did want his two front teeth for Christmas.
I wish I were hiding the presents tagged with Santa’s signature and waiting until after my kids fell asleep on Christmas Eve to tuck them under the tree.
My magical yuletide list recalls heartfelt memories of holidays long ago. But I really don’t want to turn back the hands of time—instead I want to speed up the clock. In two days my boys finally come home and once again we all will be together. Thanks, Santa, this Christmas my wish is coming true.
Shelley Murphy has lived in San Clemente with her husband for the past 18 years, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.