I could not have been much older than my son — maybe a couple years at most.
It was Christmas Eve, and the wood burning stove that sat in the middle of our dining room had filled the house with the smell of toasted wood. The Christmas tree glowed with multicolored lights, and its branches were heavy with ornaments my siblings and I had collected over the years.
My mom stood at the stove preparing two mugs with hot chocolate; the kind of hot chocolate that has those little dissolvable marshmallows in them. You know, the kind that creates that tasty foam at the top once the boiling water has done its magic?
This was the first time I had ever had hot chocolate.
I tapped my fingers on the counter as Momma and I waited for the pot of boiling water to start whistling. She continued to stand in her red sweatshirt and matching sweatpants at the stove busying herself with powdered chocolate proportions. I was so excited. Over the years, I had watched my older siblings sip at this chocolatey goodness, but I had never had a taste myself. It was for the older kids, but this year I had graduated into that category — I was an older-ish kid.
It was way past my bedtime, but I could not sleep. Tomorrow was going to be Christmas! Momma always had, and still does have, the required patience for kids with a touch of restlessness at night, especially on Christmas Eve. I sat in my pajamas and fuzzy robe waiting for my “big kid” treat.
Finally, the pot started to whistle, so Momma flipped the stove burner off. Steam swirled from the mugs as she slowing poured the hot water over the chocolate and marshmallow mixture.
“Now we stir,” she said while placing the mug in front of me. There was a spoon rested against the side of the mug waiting for me to begin stirring.
As Momma and I stirred our chocolate, the spoons made a clanking sound against the sides of the mugs. Two polar bears glanced up at me from the outside of the mug-- each with a scarf wrapped around their necks.
“When can we drink it?” I asked as I bent forward to smell the contents of the mug.
“When it is cooled down, honey,” Momma replied looking at me over her round glasses.
We kept stirring for a while. Christmas break had really just started, so it felt like I still had forever to be home — so many hours to sleep and so many hours to play with my new toys that surely would be awaiting for me in the morning.
Finally, Momma pulled some hot chocolate into her spoon.
“Here, blow it like this, and have a taste,” she said as she curved her lips to blow on the brown liquid.
As I sat gently blowing, the hot chocolate rippled in the spoon like a splashed wave moving slowly back into the ocean. The wood stove popped and cracked on the other side of the room.
Then finally, I leaned down and sipped.
And that’s when I felt it — Christmas had arrived at last.