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.
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.