Holiday Memory

I wake up early on Christmas.

This is a fact of life whether I want it to be or not. Whether I’ve slept soundly or spent the whole night tossing and turning, my brothers and I have been wide awake by eight o’ clock every Christmas we have spent in Topeka, for one thing- food.

My family follows a varied set of routines. We all wake up at different times and come or go at different times, to different places, during the day. Often all we see of each other is whoever sits in front of the television for any amount of time during the later hours of the evening. But on Christmas nobody has anywhere to go. Dad doesn’t have to be up by seven and my younger brother doesn’t have to leave for school by eight, Mom has no appointments, my oldest brother is not halfway across the country. It’s a special occasion which calls for something we don’t often get to do, and that is to eat breakfast together.

Dad wakes us all up early and tells us to get ready. To us, this means rubbing the sleep out of our eyes and being adequately prepared for the frigid tile of the kitchen with thick socks and bulky blankets or sweaters. Getting dressed can wait, it’s time to eat right now!

By the time everyone has arrived downstairs the house smells heavenly with butter braid or biscuits and gravy, and eggs and bacon or pancakes. There is a fresh pot of coffee ready for the half of the family that drinks it, and milk or juice for the half that doesn’t. Everyone sits and plays with our matching snowman mugs, converses. We share stories from the many years of holidays spent in our house, scratch the ears of our pets, and finally proceed to stuff ourselves until we are bursting apart at the seams. We are half awake. We would probably be perfectly happy to sleep until ten. But today is special.