It's that time of year when I dig deeply within my psyche and suspend all disbelief in magic and listen with my whole heart and all my senses for the jingling, tingling bells of Santa's sleigh.
Does it sound silly for an adult to still believe in Santa? Perhaps, but it is the uniqueness of human beings above all other animals to ignore what they know to be logical and instead have faith in the unknowable. If I can believe in God, I can also believe in Santa or at least the spirit of Christmas; for they are to me one and the same.
I can still smell the enticing aroma of my Grandmother's turkey roasting in the oven, slathered and basted in butter, adorned with slices of bacon, the steam rising off the peas and pearl onions, the moist cornbread muffins still warmly wrapped in fresh linens. My grandmother would line up pies (always a chocolate silk pie) on the counter as we kids scrambled for preferential treatment by offering to help her in any way we could.
I always looked forward to seeing my cousins who had traveled from Minnesota and Virginia, some years through treacherous snow, almost as much as the toys that would be neatly wrapped and carefully placed under the tree (my Grandma was the most meticulous wrapper and every present looked like a Rockwell treasure).
When no one was looking, we would sneak a peak under the tree and spy which presents were ours. It never mattered to me how many I received, for the fact that I received any was a confirmation that my Grandparents thought of me and loved me (an important factor to an adopted member of the family).
As fate would have it, there was a cousin almost my age, and most of the time we got along great. We would torture our two boy cousins, who were close enough in age that torturing was a respectable pastime. There were card games where everyone was allowed to play regardless of age or skill level, football games with uproarious cheering and classic tales from my dad's youth - which no matter how many times you heard them were always rich with details and told with enthusiasm.