Awake on Christmas Eve

Childhood Christmas

Too excited for sleep

Watching the night sky through the window by my bed

Trying to glimpse the twinkle of sleigh lights

Every sound magnified, every moment an hour

Dozing and on and off dreaming of Christmas morning

Finally enough time passes. My brother and I sneak down and get our stockings

Tiptoeing through the shadows

Giggling, hearts beating loud, when we bump and make a noise

Bringing the stockings back to our room

Pouring them out on our bed, immeasurable riches of candy and trinkets.


Other Christmases visiting family

Driving through a night so dark and bright with stars it embodies Christmas

Coming to a porch light on the prairie

Loved ones spilling out the door, enveloping us with hugs


Nights of Christmas caroling

Arm in arm in the frozen air

Hearts bursting with togetherness

Then gathering around the piano

Singing song after song while my mother played

Eating cookies, mounds of chocolate, nuts and marshmallows, indescribably good

Never wanting the moment to stop, just one more carol.


Then married, still not sleeping on Christmas Eve.

Still getting a stocking

Anticipation still keeping me awake.

At the in-laws’, walking through the neighborhood in the balmy Florida night to see the lights

Santa driving around in a golf cart, bringing candy for the children

Talking late by the fire, drinking boiled custard

It’s still magical.


Children come

And after we put them to bed in their Christmas pajamas,

Leaving cookies for Santa

My mother and I stay up late

Assembling toys and stuffing stockings

There’s a special feeling in the air we share


And then she’s gone

And it’s become work

Baking, shopping, wrapping, attending parties and programs

Trying to recreate the magic for my children

Finding that it can never be made, only experienced

In blissful unexpected moments

I fall asleep on the Eve more easily now.


The children grow up and leave

For years, I can’t bring myself to get out the decorations

But today, I put out the little houses that were my mother-in-law’s

Hope shining from their windows as I light them

I arrange the memory laden things throughout the house

The elves wink at me as they’re frozen in play

The mantle sparkles

The figures from Rudolph look like they might come alive when we go to bed

And the child in me awakes

The magic lives on

And maybe this year on Christmas Eve

I won’t be able to sleep.




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