i know how the fellow feels. being something of a list-maker and checker myself.
poor chubby ol’ elf. all those roofs on which to glide to a stop. all those sooty old chutes to get stuck in, what with a whatchamahoojie poking out from the pack.
after all these many, many christmases here, the jolly one is still making appearance. the little one teeters in that netherworld of probably not believing when he’s out on the school yard, but here, where it’s safe, where it’s home, where there’s no harm in extending the tease, he plays like he’s a believer.
uncanny, i know.
and so, as in so many uber-sized catholic families, as in the town where i grew up, when the gap between the top of the dozen and the wee one at the bottom was maybe 18 years, or 15, or for the gestational superstars, perhaps only 12, we are sending one off to college with drop-down from santa.
it’s the morning of christmas that has long been my favorite, those wee early hours stitched with suspense, with waiting, with listening for footsteps from the rooms up above.
i will be the earliest riser, if my christmas wish comes true. i’ll be alone in this old house where the whole of the morning wraps me in comfort and tidings of joy.
i’ll tiptoe down in the near-dark of dawn, plug in the lights on the tree. turn up the flame under the banged-up pot on the stove, the one that holds “smell,” my now legendary mix of orange peels and cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cloves, all simmering in a murky pot of boiled-down clove water.
i’ll kerplunk into boots and trudge out in the snow. the birds, top on my list, as i call out, “merry christmas, babies, here’s breakfast.” i think for the holiday i’ll dump cranberries in with their suet bits and sunflower seed.
back in the house, now that the chimney will have been cleared, i’ll lay down the logs and kindle the flames. no fires allowed till the wide elf makes his delivery, but i’ll be the first to see that, by then, he’s sprinkled sweet somethings all about the room, one pile per each boy.
i’ll check the cookies and milk, left out the night before. and sure enough, there will be nibbles, and a ring in the glass. that ol’ elf never fails to leave crumbs and a dirty glass, besides.
but it’s all right, we understand. he’s places to go, and chimneys to climb.
won’t be long till i hear the percussive thud of the boy in the bed leaping awake (the one rare morn when getting him up does not involve trumpets and icy buckets of water). next up on the sound panel will be the little one begging the big one to please please get up. and the big one, inherently sweet, will oblige, will slide in his slippers, will wipe the sleep from his eyes, and together they’ll tromp down the steps, round the bend.
and i, in classic santa mode, will stand back and beam, watching the boys who i love with all of my heart take in the wonder and loot that fell from the sack.
and for the 18th christmas that i’ve been so blessed, i’ll feel my ol’ thumper fill up and spill–the magic of santa, indeed and indeed, is that every once in a very rare while we get to step into magic and let it play out.
same props. same story. year after year after year.
and may we all live happily ever after.
merry blessed christmas to you and to yours. to the little wee ones who fought to get here. to the big kids who climbed their own mountains this year. whatever are the stories that brought you to this holy winter’s morn, hallelujah and joy everlasting. may you find your bliss this christmas.