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When I was little, we had a wood stove that heated the living room. The sounds of wood crackling and popping were soothing as was the smell on a cold morning. But at Christmas, the smell was accentuated by the smell of cedar tree in the living room. In the dark, the Christmas lights shined in multi-colored happiness and sparkled off the TV screen and the wood stove. You could see these lights glowing all the way down the hall and underneath the door. Of course there wasn’t many times when I was a child when the door was shut. You can’t get warm in a closed room. Every night before my parents went to bed, they turned the lights off the Christmas tree.
I hated this because you only get a Christmas tree for one month out of the year. I'm not particularly a great sleeper at night so seeing the Christmas tree lights always gave me something to look forward to throughout the night as I'd wake up.
There is one particular time I can remember very vividly about Christmas. I wasn’t very old- maybe seven or eight- I asked for Santa to leave the Christmas lights on to show me he was there. I was about to the age when believing in Santa was the cool thing to do anymore and I just wanted a sign that he was around. Sorta like my belief in unicorns. Someday I’m going to find myself a purple unicorn with wings and I’m going to fly away to the moon like a faerie princess with my iridescent wings shimmering in the wind.
At first I heard the tree bells. It was a very soft sound, tinkling in the air like impish laughter. We had this Christmas tree cut out with bells on the ends. I put it on the front door every year because I liked the sound of bells ringing. Since we didn’t have a chimney, I knew I could trap Santa this way.
I waited, listening for the sound again.
I waited. I held my breath in case I was too loud and couldn’t hear them ring again.
I heard hooves on the roof. Impatient, stomping in protest. My childish heart leapt in joy. I quietly slipped from my top bunk bed, silent as my feet hit the carpet. My flannel nightgown brushed the floor as I tried to slip on my house shoes. The fumbling was take too long and my impatience made me sneak to the door and peek around the door jam. All was dark. All was calm.
Except for the glorious glow coming from the living room. Red and blue and yellow and green! They danced in the darkness as though there was a race to be won!
I held back a squeal of joy as I tiptoed towards the living room. My stocking was on the ledge, held by a snowman hook. My name was in glitter, the tree lights sparkled off the stocking. It was filled to the brim with cookies and snack cakes and fruit! I nearly did a backflip with happiness!
And the most amazing thing was beyond the doorway into the living room.
The tree was lit up more beautiful than I could ever imagine!
I flew down the stairs onto the linoleum, the cold not even registering on my bare feet, as I beheld the most beautiful Christmas tree ever known to mankind. The star on top of the tree shimmered with the lights, the ornaments bejeweled. Even the TV screen looked bigger in the lights. Beside the tree was my note to Santa and the plate of empty cookies. On my note was a smiley face, not of my own drawing, but of-
I sat down on the carpet in front of the Christmas tree and just looked at it. I can’t remember how long I sat there just thinking about all the rotten things I’d done all year long and how Santa could’ve written me a note saying how awful of a kid I’d been, except he chose to draw me a smiley face and turn the lights on.
I’ll never forget it. Doesn’t mean I cleaned up my act though. Just made me more conscious to make the clean up a little better and leave no evidence to be found.
Now with a week away from Christmas Eve, I’m struggling to get into the Christmas spirit this year. So help me out. Let’s tell stories of our favorite Christmas memories to remind ourselves what’s most important this time of the year. It’s not our mile long list of stuff to do to make this important for everyone else that counts today, it’s all about us.
So be selfish for just a few minutes and share your story. Santa will be watching.