A Christmas Memory

December 21, 2008 at 1:43 PM (Uncategorized) (, , )

So, I’m between eight and 13 years old….

The Christmas Rule in our house was “No Waking of the Parents for The Opening of Presents Prior to 8:00 am EDT on the 25th.

Generally, even though we didn’t do church, we went to the Basically Protestant (but not evangelical) Christmas Eve thing. Songs, Carols, a sermon about what Christmas really ought to mean..and then candles and home…

And for that one night, there was geniune mystery in the house…lights were dimmed so the tree could show off… Cookies, and eggnog were had by its light….My father, the uapologetic alchoholic would go on to wreck other Christmas Eve’s but he hadn’t started yet (or at least had the courtesy to wait until I was asleep..).. He would read the Nativity story in Luke, and sound like he genuinely gave a d@mm about the journey, the pregnant woman having to bed down in a barn…and the initial WTF reaction the sheperds have, followed by belief, and mystery about this baby.

Then I’d try to go to sleep…and search for my own personal Star…I imagined, even though no one’s theology said this, that the Star reappeared every Christmas Eve…to confirm it was a magical night. I’d always pick the brightest star I could see, assign it the Star’s role…and finally fall asleep…and manage some….

The worst year was when I woke up at two a.m.

And knew there was no way I was going back to sleep. So I read some of my favorites, Robin Hood, and some cool story about the first school for service dogs, and Little Women.

By five am. I was damn sick of reading. So I turned my light off, and went into the living room, missing the creaky floorboard in my bedroom on purpose…to carefully prod at the stocking, assuming I’d be able to make sense out of the bumps and corners, but too scared to actually sneak anything into my bedroom and *look.* Same for the big boxes…I prowled around the corners of the tree, crawling, and examining various boxes, putting them *exactly* back where I found them.

I maybe had a clue about one present after that….but that was all.

I snuck back into my room at six and watched the morning get there.

By 7:45 I simply could not stand it. I *ran* out my door, ran through the middle room and threw open the master bedroom door, and actually leapt onto my parents’ bed successfully, and said. “I can’t *Take* it anymore…I’ve been up since two, can we pleasepleaseplease open *Boxes* Now?????!!!!”

Even then, the Rule held, because Mom insisted that we brush our teeth and put on robes (for the picturetaking of course.)…and she made sure it took how long?

Exactly 15 minutes.


It’s long ago and far away Dad’s gone…Mom’s her own kind of distant…but I’m making the cookies myself this year, and have the same Christmas Music (Eugene Ormandy Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1959, “The Glorious Sounds of Christmas,” ) and have a Christmas Eve service to attend…

Alone…but not quite alone. Presents scaled down… but not quite gone.

(“The Economy, you know…” .) (Scrooge would be cackling with glee somewhere if he was real)

Because the mystery, as Doctor Seuss has said, can show up without “packages, boxes or bags.”


Happy Holidays.

Happy Hanuka.

Have a Cool Yule.

Happy New Year.

And, “Merry Christmas, to all and to all a good night.’


1 Comment

  1. bridgett said,

    Thinking of you — warm wishes for a happy holiday.

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