The door on the advent calendar marked 24 has always meant that Christmas is tomorrow, but that Christmas Eve — the most exciting day of all — was here. When I was growing up our immediate family Christmas stuff always happened on Christmas Eve, including what seemed to be a rather nifty way of Santa arriving with presents.
At some point in the evening, usually after dinner and my parents pointing out a blinking red light in the sky which was (clearly!) Rudolph’s nose, the doorbell would ring and IT WAS SANTA. My sister, one of my parents (usually my Dad), and I would all hurry upstairs and hide in one of the bedrooms singing Christmas carols while we heard Santa be let in the house. Santa would be stomping around the house, Ho! Ho! Ho!-ing, and five or seven minutes (an eternity!) would elapse while we sang as hard as we could.
Suddenly the front door would close and it would get quiet, and whichever parent wasn’t with us (usually my Mom) would come upstairs and tell us that she thinks he’s gone. We’d then hurry downstairs and were always two piles of things, one for my sister and one for me. Cookies and milk that had been left out would be partially eaten, and the little bowl of sugar left for the reindeer would have marks in it from the reindeer tongues.
After my sister and I spent time looking through, opening, and somewhat playing with our new stuff it was then time for us to exchange things that we got for each other.
Thinking back I don’t ever remember us having particularly extravagant Christmases, but we were never disappointed. Over the years I remember (lots of) Lego, Transformers, tools, a new robe, fun Nerf stuff, a Game Boy, NES games (my dad had even picked out such amazing games as Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll and Bionic Commando for me), my own CD player / stereo for my bedroom, and just lots of really thoughtful gifts and really nice holidays. Much of this has shaped who I am today in many ways
I also seem to recall that if we ever looked outside after Santa had arrived there would also be marks from the runners on Santa’s sleigh, small marks from reindeer hooves, and footprints from Santa all around and leading up to the front door.