Memory Fridays: The Missing and the Believing.

It's Christmas Eve and we're on the train to my parents' house. Within an hour we'll be decorating cookies and trading jokes with the siblings and helping my Dad prepare Christmas dinner.

I love living so close that it's only a short train ride away.

My family has always done Christmas in New York (unless you count that one time when we lived in Ohio and drove 8 hours to Pennsylvania on Christmas day, when I wasn't allowed to take my new Peaches & Cream Barbie doll, but hey, who remembers that??). When they were alive my Nana and Pop-pop would come up and spend Christmas with us; playing Parcheesi and getting ready for church was always more special with our grandparents there. I miss them.

Though we did Christmas at our place, we used to spend Easter in Pennsylvania with both sides of extended family. Somehow the Easter Bunny found his way to us in Schuylkill Haven… that is, until I learned he was not real.

I must have been about 7 or 8 and for some reason, I was sleeping in my grandparents' bed the night before Easter. I remember that my parents and grandparents were still awake. I remember that my grandparents' bedroom was dark and there were big shadowy shapes on the chair, where Pop-pop threw his clothes. And for whatever reason, that night, I woke up earlier than I should have.

I woke up to the sound of giggling.

Bleary-eyed, I wandered out of the bedroom and down the hallway to the kitchen, where I found my Mom and Nana, elbow-deep in Easter grass, decorating our baskets. Laughing! As they did the Easter Bunny's job!

In my romanticized version of this story, they are throwing candy eggs up in the air, carefree and confident in their lies. In this version, I scream and indict them for convincing me that a damn huge rabbit that brings you EGGS and CANDY really exists.

In reality, I started to cry and my mom comforted me, telling me that no, there wasn't an Easter bunny, but that I should let Katie keep believing because it was a good thing for little kids. Like dominoes in my head, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy went down in flames and just like that, I grew up a little bit.

I can't wait to get excited about Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny with my kids. How amazing is it that, at some point, we are all young enough to believe that the CRAZIEST of things is possible? I love this idea.

Alongside my feet on this train is a giant bag of presents that we bought and wrapped in Brooklyn. We're no Santa Claus, but I am excited to get them under the tree and see my family's faces light up tomorrow morning. Tonight we'll go to the candlelight service and sing carols, ending the evening with Silent Night by candlelight. It is my most favorite moment of Christmas because every year since she died, I can hear my Nana's voice singing her favorite hymn along with us, quiet, fragile, and true.

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