Is there ever the same wonder and mystery to Christmas as when you are a small child. Everything is so real to you, the spirit of Christmas, angels hover all around, excited at the memory of the baby Jesus and silently lending their voices as we practice the Christmas hymns. Heaven and earth seem to move closer to one another in our minds. Going to the local school to watch the older children in Christmas plays and concerts and as small children we would never dream that the whole adult world is in on a secret about the north pole that will reveal itself to us as we get older.
The longest hours ever for a small child to wait through, belong to the night before Christmas. I remember feeling like mass would take forever, I had a bit of guilt about that but I was sure God would understand. When we would get home there was no problem getting us to bed, we understood that the sooner we went to sleep, the sooner Santa would come. We also knew he would get easily spooked if he thought we were awake and might not come so sleep we must. The trouble was sleep always took a holiday on Christmas eve, I would fall asleep but kept waking up every two to three hours. When I would open my eyes and see the darkness of a winter night, it felt like I was about to climb the largest hill, I was in for a long battle of trying to get to sleep only to have my hidden excitement snap me fully back awake again. I felt betrayed by sleep, it was suppose to carry me to the morning, to the point of running down stairs, it was suppose to erase the waiting. Lying in bed I would become aware of the noises down stairs as the large farm house would groan, click and bang as it cooled down for the night. This would cause me to stay perfectly still, I would strain to hear, maybe just maybe it was him placing our gifts under the tree, I had to stay still not wanting to upset or disturb him, very important to let the man finish his job. Finally sleep again.
I would awaken to the sound of something slowly making it's way to my room, still dark out but morning was drawing near and I knew it was my Captain in the war of getting away with things on our parents. Yes my older sister would sneak over to see if I was awake, or wake me which ever presented itself. We would stay there until the blue light of the earliest dawn appeared, this signaled we could go. Not turning on any lights and staying quiet we would head down stairs, a little nervous that a strange man had been in the house and also hoping if he was still there that he would disappear once he heard us coming. As we descended the stairs the Christmas tree would come into view. It was always so magical and breath taking to a small child. Sparkling from tinsel, angel hair and glass ornaments reflecting the soft morning light and gently moving from the currents of air. There they were, at the base of the tree, toys! We did not get many during the year if ever, but this was the mother load! He had been here, on went the lights as we dove in. There was a magic to these gifts, brought in a sleigh by a man who few knew about, one day being built at the north pole the next in my house, in that time of complete innocence you just never thought to question. Mom and Dad would come down and always give each other those little knowing glances when I would say how Santa somehow knew just what I wanted.
I think there is always a little of that small child in a lot of us at Christmas. I don't think there is ever another wondrous time for us like that again, I believe that is why people try to hold onto those feelings, often by recreating it for their children and grandchildren. I still have a lot of the things Santa brought me, throwing them away would be throwing my child hood away, my memories away. I hope this Christmas morning, upon first opening your eyes, that again you will have that innocent wonder of a small child.