I love decorating for Christmas. I especially enjoy the lights on my tree and when I sometimes sat for a few minutes at night and basked in its beauty a wave of nostalgia sweeps over me and I think of the poem from the McGuffeys fifth reader by Elizabeth Akers Allen. "Backwards, turn backwards, O time in your flight, Make me a child again just for tonight."

I can’t help but reflect back to Christmas past when it seemed the nighttime would never come on Christmas Eve. Daddy would tell us that we needed to go to bed so that morning would come sooner. We thought that the sooner we went to bed, the sooner morning would come. We did not realize that the hours would be the same, but on Christmas it just might not be the same.

As we snuggled down under the pile of quilts on our bed, there really were visions of Sugar Plums dancing in our heads. The excitement was so great that I could hardly sleep because I was afraid that I would not hear reindeer hoofs on the roof. After what seemed hours of tossing about unable to sleep, the magic moment had arrived I would hear Santa Claus rattling paper, I know now that he must have been filling our stockings with all the many goodies of an apple, orange, nuts, and candy from the brown paper bags he carried in his sleigh because we had on occasions found some of the brown paper bags that smelled like apples and oranges. The nuts were wonderful, and I am sure that there has been many a tooth ruined as we tried to crack nuts with our teeth before Daddy had time to get a hammer out for us to use to crack them.

There were many different colors of nuts. The dark brown of the Brazil nut, lighter brown of the pecan, the beige of the English walnut and of course the light color of the almond with its bitter tasting shell that kinda puckered your mouth if you cracked it with your teeth.

One of our favorite treats of the whole season was the date roll that Mama made. It was made from that wonderful dark brown sugar, and it had lots of dates and nuts in it. Mama made it several days before Christmas so it could ripen. It was rolled in a damp flour sack then in newspaper. We all knew where she hid it, in one of the long drawers of the buffet. I have often wondered if she really tried to hide it or if she knew that each child would find it and take just a small sample just to see if had ripened just right. I would very carefully shave off just a taste only to find Pat grinning with a much bigger piece. I have often tried to make one just like the ones that Mama made, but I have never quite found that extra something that makes mine taste like the one that Mama made. I am wondering if it is that most magical of ingredients called childhood that is missing in my date roll.

We only got to see Santa only one time before Christmas and that was at the church Christmas party. I can tell you for sure that he is a roly poly happy man who listens to everything you have to say because he sure was good to me. He must be an ageless person because he never seems to grow older with time. I saw him the other day and he was still smiling the same wonderful smile that I remember from years past.

To all of you, my readers, may Santa never grow old within your heart. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, and may the New Year hold only the BEST for all of you.