Of all the stories surrounding Christmas, I didn’t hear the one about animals talking at midnight to ring in Christmas Day until I was an adult. Don’t think I was neglected in the Christmas tale department as a child. There were some real zingers like…
- “I think I’ll hide out on the rooftop with my scope, and bag me a reindeer or two.”
- “Let’s see how jolly Ole Saint Nicholas is after hopping into this roaring fire.”
- “Santa will take away your toys if you get up before 8 AM.”
- “You’d better watch out. The Ghost of Christmas Past roams the house on Christmas Eve, looking for nosy little children.”
- “You know who else sees you when you’re sleeping? The Boogeyman!”
Ah, the magic of Christmas and the wonder of childhood. Those long Christmas Eves lying in mortal terror of being the kid who ruined Christmas for the world eventually dawned into bright mornings of pure, glorious greed buried beneath mountains of ripped wrapping paper and discarded bows. All the waiting, all the pressure to be good, all the times I should’ve whacked my pesky little brother lay in the aftermath of Christmas morning. It was both dizzying and depressing. On the one hand, all the mysteries were unwrapped and I could take stock (and keep score, of course), hoarding my treasures on my side of the stripped tree. On the other, I could breathe again. It would be another whole year before I’d have to make myself accountable to Santa, whose powers I frankly didn’t fear until around Thanksgiving.
We always watched that Claymation Little Drummer Boy on one of our 3 TV channels. This was before the advent of satellite dishes and Nintendo. You know, the dark ages. That cartoon constituted the cameo appearance of Jesus in my early Christmas memories. That, and the chocolate calendar our “Holy Roller” aunt sent through the mail was about as religious as we got.
Now, some 40 odd years later, I see Christmas Eve in a much different light. I look back on my childhood holidays fondly, for love was in abundance. Last night, I saw that old familiar flicker of anticipation in my daughter’s eyes and knew it for what it was. She is a reflection of me, for better or worse. And like Dickens said, I have the power to make her Christmas memories bright or blighted.
In the olden days, Christmas was a time for scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago. I’ll keep Christmas, both the dark and the light, and I’ll hold out hope that my girls have those magical midnight conversations with their beloved kitties and pups on this special night, a night when an inextinguishable light of hope shone for all the world.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, Gentle Reader!