When I was about eight or nine years old, I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve, too excited to fall asleep! We lived in a tiny, story-and-a-half bungalow. On the first floor, there was a parlor just inside the front door, a dining room behind that, an eat-in kitchen off to one side, a small bath and a back porch (that had been converted to bedroom space). At the back of the kitchen, a narrow stairway led to the half-story rooms above (I suspect this was also converted space, previously an attic).
I slept in a small single bed situated at the top of the stairs. (I don’t think that bed could accurately fit the description of a “twin” bed; it was narrow like an Army cot … and may well have been!)
Even with this upstairs area being “converted,” it still wasn’t technically bedroom space (no closet, no doors to shut for privacy). My room was more of an alcove/pass-through area with a low, sloped ceiling. An opening (no actual door that I recall) opposite the stairs led into a larger space where my two brothers slept.
At this point in my life, I was old enough to have experienced and remembered past Christmases (and birthdays) but young enough to still be amazed by the wonder of Christmas. I’ve always had an excitable stomach, and on this occasion, I well remember the impossibility of sleep because my belly churned with butterflies!
I thought about the gaunt Christmas tree downstairs, decorated with handmade popcorn garlands, red/green construction paper chains and plenty of silvery-string tinsel to hide the bare spots.
Shortly before bedtime, Mom and Dad had brought out wrapped gifts and placed them under the tree. (They wouldn’t dare put presents under the tree earlier, too much temptation for little ones … and even my older brother and I were not to be trusted.) We’d had night-time stories, prayers and cuddles before climbing the stairs to our beds. Before long, my brothers and I were “nestled all snug in our beds.”
But my excitement was such, I could not transition into “visions of sugar plums” dancing in my head. I simply could not sleep!
I was surprisingly alerted by the sound of bells! Naturally, at first I wondered if I’d nodded off and mistakenly dreamt I’d heard bells. But I continued to hear the tinkling sound and knew immediately something exciting was about to happen!
These bells were not sounding on the rooftop, there was no clatter or sound of reindeer lighting on the rafters overhead. No, what I heard came from below. The problem (for me, a consistently compliant child) was my parents had a very strict rule about getting out of bed once we were settled in. Disobedience on this particular night might mean disaster on the morrow. What to do? What to do?!
I don’t know how long I waited, breathless with anticipation. It seemed like forever!
Continue reading “Santa Came To My House!”