On Christmas Eve past, just before bedtime, after teethes were brushed and prayers were said, my parents, four brothers, sister, two dogs, a parakeet, and a cat would lie on our living room floor and watch the color wheel behind the tree change the thick white flocking different colors. The slow turning of the wheel felt like a hypnotic trance as we felt ourselves getting more and more sleepy. We would then gather on top of or around our dad as the magic began to flow while he told the story ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. He would carry me, while the others followed, off to our rooms along the hallway to be tucked in and kissed before Santa arrived.
Yesterday I began to lift down my Christmas story stash. The stack of books began to fall and a book opened up and my father’s voice began to speak the words. I sat down on the top step of my hallway and listened as he completed the story. I had forgotten several years before he passed away that I had had him tell our traditional Christmas Eve story in one of the recorder books from Hallmark. But the book was damaged, left out in the car in freezing weather. We could not ever get it to work again, and I was heartbroken. But strangely today it worked for the last two pages as I listened to my dad’s voice.
“And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!”
The flood of childhood memories filled me up like hot cocoa and I sat there and held that book on the top of my stairwell feeling my dad close by.