In so many ways, I’m still very much a child in this grown up body. That’s even more the case when Christmas rolls around.
I get up excited every Christmas morning, anxious to get to the living room to see what’s been left there overnight.
And, though the gifts aren’t for me any more, I still look forward to watching my children tear through the gifts they receive.
Christmas, anyway you cut it, is a holiday for children.
Think quickly about your favorite Christmas. I bet for nine out of 10 of you, the one that pops to mind is from your childhood. You may have children of your own now, or even grandchildren, but if you think of that Christmas to top all Christmases, I bet the one that comes to mind is from your childhood.
That’s certainly the case for me.
We lived in Dover, Del. for a time when I was small. Our neighbors were the Kamps. Mr. Kamp was a pilot in the Air Force. His daughter, Lisa, was a year or so older than me.
When I was about six, Mr. Kamp was reassigned from Dover Air Force Base to Germany. He left several days before Christmas. Mrs. Kamp and Lisa sent all their stuff ahead to Germany on Christmas Eve. That year. Mrs. Kamp and Lisa spent Christmas at our house.
Lisa was my best little friend. We played dolls all the time. My Ken doll rescued her Barbie Doll more times than I can count. Even though she was a girl at an age when I should have been worried about getting the cooties, she was as much fun to hang out with as any boy in the neighborhood.
Every afternoon for my mother must have been a chorus of “Can I go to Lisa’s house?” or “Can Lisa come over and play?”
Having her at our house that Christmas Eve was the best present I could have asked for. We slept in sleeping bags on the living room floor that year, my brother, me and Lisa.
Santa Claus managed somehow to fill the living room with toys - for all three of us - without ever waking us up.
I don’t recall any of the gifts Santa brought me that year. I remember thinking how sad it was that Lisa couldn’t spend that Christmas in her own house. But I remember having one more chance to spend time with my friend.
She and her mother left our house on Christmas Day.
I never saw her again.
It never occurred to me that a career in the military could make someone so transient. Goodness only knows where her father’s military career took them.
But the memory of spending Christmas with her remains one of the kindest Christmas memories of all.
All my kids’ Christmases, enjoyable as they have been, just can’t match the memory of that one grand Christmas in Delaware spent sleeping in the floor with my friend in what would ultimately be our last hurrah.