* All the Christmas Eves when I was a teenager I would stay up late helping Mom & Dad do the last minute present wrapping into the wee hours of the morning. We would listen to Christmas music, talk, laugh, drink hot chocolate and wrap, wrap, wrap. One Christmas we started looking at the number of presents versus the space under and around the tree and realized that there was no way there was going to be enough room for all the presents, plus the whole family. You see, there are 8 kids in my family, me being the oldest, and on Christmas morning everyone chooses a 'spot' with ample room around them to pile up their gifts. So, we looked around and decided to set up the other tree we hadn't set up that year in the front living room and put all the presents there. After all was said and done, I slept on the couch in the den, where the 'original' tree was set up that didn't have any gifts under it. When my brother and sisters came downstairs on Christmas morning they went straight to the den, not even bothering to look in the front room, and were shocked. "Oh no! Where are all the presents?!" "What's going on?" Then my sister, Moriah, had the brilliant idea to look in the front room, where all the presents were waiting. It was SO funny, and a Christmas we always talk about.
* As I mentioned previously, on Christmas morning we all stake out a spot to sit and gather our gifts. We would gather together and have morning prayer, then Dad would sit next to the tree and pass out the presents one by one. It was a riot every time, because he would pick up a present and read the name on it, but always mess up the name, pronounce it funny, or try to sound it out if the person's initials were written on it. Then we would have to 'claim' it. He would question us and say things like, "Are you sure this is your present?" "Can I see some ID?" "You don't look like a ____." "Do you want this? You already have a stack. You got the last one." Or, we would be saying a gift was ours, and he would pretend like he didn't hear us and say, "What? So no one claims this gift? I guess I'll just put it back under the tree." or "If no one wants this one I guess I can keep it." It was always so fun. We would try to wrestle the gift away from him, or try to nab it as he was playing keep-away with it. Then, after all the presents had been passed out, Dad would say, after stalling for a while and letting our excitement build up, "One, two, three, GO!" and there would be a frenzy, wrapping paper flying everywhere.
* On Christmas Eve we have a family devotional where we have a special program. We plan and practice special musical numbers to do along with reading the Christmas story out of the Bible. Since everyone in my family sings and/or plays an instrument, everyone participates and contributes to the 'program'. A couple of years ago the bishop in my parents' ward heard about our family tradition and had us share what we do on Christmas Eve with the ward for sacrament meeting the Sunday before Christmas. At the end of the program my Dad spoke and bore his testimony. In his testimony he spoke of how once he had a very vivid dream in which he saw the shepherds in the fields, 'keeping watch over their flocks by night' and then saw the concourses of angels appear, singing praises unto God. He bore such a strong witness of the birth of our Savior and the Spirit was so strong, you could feel it enveloping you like a blanket.
* Another great Christmas memory I have of my Dad occurred when I was a little kid. Of course, at the time I didn't know it was my Dad. My sister, Chaia, and I shared a bedroom. We were put to bed on Christmas Eve and told that if we opened the door and accidentally saw Santa, he couldn't leave the presents he had brought for us, so we had to stay in bed no matter what! Then, shortly after we went to bed we heard noises up on the roof. We looked out the window and saw a red glowing light. We were so excited. Then, we heard the front door open. Since we didn't have a chimney it made sense he would come in the front door, right?! Plus, Mom & Dad had said they'd been working with him, so they could easily let him in. We raced to the door of our bedroom and laid flat on our bellies, trying to peek under the door and see what was going on in the living room. We heard jingle bells ringing and a loud "Ho, Ho, Ho!" We couldn't believe our ears! Santa was in our living room! We heard him place the toys under the tree and take the cookies & milk. Then he left, jingling as he went, and with another "Ho, Ho, Ho" he was gone. It must have taken our racing little hearts hours to slow down enough to go to sleep. In the meantime, we whispered excitedly with one another about what we had just 'seen' and heard. I still get excited when I think about that night and the magic of that Christmas Eve.
Love you, Dad!