Dishes clanked beneath the quarter inch plywood under my pillow, as my Mom prepped for Christmas. Holiday dishes dosey-doed through sudsy water, below sleeping bag belly laughs. Wood stove heat rose through the grate, warming chilly Rudolph noses. Siblings and cousins of all shapes from different states, lay side by side beneath below zero bags. Flat as pancakes we laid until laughs created worm shape wonders, squirming off mattress pads. I may never recall what made us belly laugh so hard Christmas Eve, but there are few moments as precious as this memory stored in my temporal, under my Santa hat.
Blinking Christmas tree lights reflected off A-frame beams from the cathedral ceiling, a door down. Anticipatory faces exposed to the nights darkness, my body lay snug as a northern bug, in my childhood cabin attentive for sleigh bells.
We had a picture book fireplace, chimney, and snow covered roof, leaving no reason to believe in anything other than the white bearded man. The magic I felt in my soul on Christmas Eve as a small child has never been replicated. I could not wait to sprint downstairs Christmas morning, as if I could combust with sheer excitement.
We did not have numerous material gifts. Many of my toys would be hand me downs from older siblings, homemade from my Dads wood shop, or Moms wool creations, spun up from pet sheep. Excitement remained in my heart, oblivious to an excessive mall packaged Christmas.
Wood had been delivered, split, stacked and thrown into the cellar. An open fireplace crackled in the living-room. This kindling warm moment of Lifetime television was not brought to you by Sears, nor was it a push button Duraflame fireplace to please flatlander photographs. This was the real deal, with cracked fingers and splinters to prove labor behind the warmth, initiated months prior. The second I forgot this
comfortable process, perhaps taking it for granted, my Dad would “gently encourage” us to go outside, fetch a splintery stack of gnarly wood, fill a wheel barrel, and drag it through the snow toward the house.
Smile and repeat all winter long…
I believed in that jolly man in a sleigh. I fell for the entire story, dreaming of reindeer and sparkly cookies. Our stockings were hung by a real fireplace beneath the chimney with knitted care. Candy canes poked between large colorful knitted seams, an orange always filled the base.
I listened for hoof prints overhead, long after cousins snored and fires quelled. I felt in all of my being the childhood magic of such a wondrous tale…