"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!" I squealed as I opened my stocking to find the one gift I had hoped for with every bit of my childish being. It was a...
Hold on. I should back up a bit. A standard Christmas begins with the choosing of the perfect tree. Perfect height, width, life. It is quite a precise process. We must come to a consensus about one tree. Minutes flying past, we walk in circles through the yard, snow sprinkling lightly, inspecting all the trees until there's only one left. In a few minutes, my dad is muscling the ultimate tree into the back of the van. With much huffing, puffing, pushing, pulling, the tree jams into the back of the vehicle. Even with the branches all wrapped up, the tree is rounder than Santa Claus's belly.
Waiting for the pine branches to fall, we bustle around the house, decorating and sprucing it up. At long last, the branches have fallen perfectly. As we pass ornaments from boxes to branches, and nativity scenes from wood to world, Christmas tunes jam in the background. I especially love the song Winter Wonderland. The gingerbread is made, and the kids rush to colour the icing. From blues and greens, to reds and browns, the icing is delicious. Some of the gingerbread have Smarties for eyes, and Reese's for buttons, while others have icing covering them from head to toe. Sitting back to admire the tree, the lights and ornaments wink joyously.
Eventually Sinterklaas rolls around, the family packs into the car and motors away towards the Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus for the annual Dutch Christmas celebration. The pannekoeken differ. Noah and Zoe get a Black Forest pannekoek, with ice cream, cherries, chocolate and whipped cream. Daddy and I each get a savoury, salty pannekoek. With potatoes, cheese, sour cream, and the most exquisite salty flavour. My mom's pannekoek is like mine, but it has bacon. The anticipation of seeing Saint Nicholas compiled. Suddenly, and with lots of cheering, Saint Nick's troop tromps through the door, Black Piet trailing behind the flowing cloak of Saint Nick himself, throwing pepernoten.
Taking an eternity, Saint Nicholas made his way around the tables, until he finally arrived at our table. Giving each one of us a Kinder Egg Surprise!, he opened his huge book and started spouting knowledge about us. He knows I want a camera, ukulele, and books. Noah wants a basketball, a skateboard, and anything BUT books. Zoe wants an Elsa costume, and a Barbie. The children are amazed that he knows so much, while parents are smiling mischievously in the background, having given this information to him.
We have to wait 20 days until Christmas day, and those 20 days drag. But, eventually, the eve of the special day arrived, and the enthusiasm heightens until it feels like I will burst. In my nicest dress, my family makes its way to the church candlelight service, grabbing candles as we scurry in, arriving a touch late. The candles are lit, and the sanctuary glows with faint lights.
"It's one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen mum!" I whisper in my mother's ear as we take our seats. The sermon and service aren't exciting, and it feels like the pastor is Charlie Brown's teacher. "Waw waw waw." At long last, I am free from the service, sprint to the car, unable to wait for the morning! We get home, and after much begging, finally convince the parents to let us open one gift.
First Noah, who gets a skateboard, Zoe, who gets an Elsa costume, and lastly me. I get a book. A short book called A Christmas Carol. It is one of those books that are old, complicated books, that someone makes more simple so that children can read it. I have no idea what it is, and I look questioningly at my mom.
"It's a book about a mean old man and spirits," Mom explains patiently. "He is taken to the past, present an-"
"Mom!" I exclaim loudly. "Don't spoil it!"
So I run up to my room, turn on the light, and immediately start to read. From the first page, the book enthralls me. I can't stop reading, until my parents come and turn off the light to say goodnight, forcing me to close the book.
It seems that as soon as I get to sleep, I wake up, light shining through my window. I squeal with delight and dash downstairs to find the whole family waiting. My dad announces: "It is time to look for our stockings!"
There is a tradition in our house that has happened ever since my parents were kids. The parents hide stockings around the house, and then everyone must look for their own. It takes over half an hour to find my red one, but after some time, I find it hidden in the piano bench. Waiting for others to find theirs is agonizing. Holding my stocking in my lap, but not being able to open it is the hardest thing in the world. It is an eternity before we get to open them, and we indulge at the same time. I pull out socks, chocolate, candy, other knick-knacks until one thing is left. A small parcel in Santa Claus wrapping. I pull it out and feel it. There is a bump on one side, and a very smooth surface on the other. I rip it open and find the only thing that I wanted desperately, wholeheartedly for Christmas.
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!" I shrieked. Finding an illustrious, glorious camera. My first picture is of the glittering tree, and in the lens, the colours are more vibrant, painted in a beautiful way that you couldn't get with only your eyes.
If you celebrate Christmas, you'll know that no gift can compare to the gift that God gave the world on that one special night, but, at that moment, this gift came very close. I was on top of the world!