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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

A very merry Christmas season

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(12/2014) In my family it always starts in November. The smell of Halloween candy and cinnamon, McIntosh apple candles has been wafted away and is replaced by the smells of balsam fir and baked goods. Throughout this month garland is strung, stockings are hung, nutcrackers and Santa Clause figurines are placed on mantles, and at least two of the many Christmas trees that adorn our home are decorated. All of these cheerful holiday ordainments are placed strategically around the house so one can scarcely turn round without seeing something infused with the holiday spirit; and this is just November. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, dozens upon dozens of cookies are made and it is finally time to buy the Christmas tree. This has always been somewhat of an event in my household. There is a small family-owned farm nearby my home where we cut our own Christmas tree, but not just any Christmas tree. There are certain specifications that need to be met: it must be full, it must be wide, and it must be tall enough to reach the ceiling. After the tree is bought and brought into the house, we cut the netting incasing it and watch as it spreads open with a burst of pine needles and cold air that smells like a forest covered in frost. As the tree settles and while the cookies and hot chocolate are being made, we carry up the decorations and sort through the lights and beads that have become tangled together in the past long months. After everything is in order, we begin. By the end the tree is laden with white, gold, flame-like lights, and shining baubles that adorn every branch. Some ornaments hold special meaning; some are childhood pictures or old arts and crafts projects, two are a matching pair from my parents’ honeymoon, and some are gifts or heirlooms brought from faraway places. The angel on top dwarfs in comparison to the rest of the tree and her dress is rather plain in contrast to the tree’s splendor, but we’ve had her for ages, and every year she has maintained her silence vigil atop the tree, keeping watch over the house’s inhabitance. This all may sound like a little too much Christmas spirit, but it has been this way for as long as I can remember and truly I would not want it any other way.

The first Christmas I can remember is when I was seven years old. There is a certain excitement surrounding Christmas that induces a kind of restless sleep. You stay up late, ears straining to hear the sound of sleigh bells and hooves tapping on shingles. You eventually fall asleep, but when you wake up a few hours later you do not remember precisely when you gave in to slumber. It’s early in the morning now, still dark, and your parents are still sleeping as you creep down the stairs. You turn on the lights on the tree and gaze at the luminous picture before you, filled with an indescribable feeling, but it’s something akin to wonderment. Everything is still as you slowly approach the glimmering tree, scarcely breathing in fear that you might break the spell that seems to have been placed over the whole house. The house itself seems to be holding its breath. All is still and quiet except for the occasional small pop of a floorboard or the soft clink of the radiator. Your eyes tear themselves away from the scene to the set of packages nestled below, but you can worry about those later. Right now you sit, cross-legged in front of the tree, enjoying the absolute silence and thinking about everything and nothing at all.

This is how all my Christmases begin. And so it began eleven years ago. I woke up, tiptoed ever so stealthily down the stairs until I stood in front of the colossal Christmas tree. I waited for who knows how long until my sister came down to join me. We tried, we really did try to give our parents an extra hour or so to sleep in, but the willpower of two children crumbles in the midst of gifts from Father Christmas. We started subtlety rattling the boxes, hoping the noise might wake our parents; it did not. We spoke a little louder than our previous whispers; still nothing. Finally, my sister convinced me to wake them. So I did. I snuck into their room and gently shook them awake and after much grumbling, yawning, and shuffling of feet, we were all downstairs as a family, opening gifts and laughing while my father filmed us. I don’t really remember what I got that Christmas (I do remember one involved some sort of chocolate), but I will never forget what that day felt like. I do hate to sound cliché, but it wasn’t the presents that I will cherish, but rather the faces of my family that will always be imprinted on my heart. And with that, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Read other articles by Sarah Muir