by J. A. Buxton
One of my favorite Christmas memories (500 words)
|Around three in the morning, I slowly crept down the stairs from my bedroom. Through the French door on my right I could see my parents asleep in their bed. Still trying to be quiet and not wake them up, I made my way through the archway on the left into the living room.
As I tiptoed across the darkened room, I could smell the Christmas tree in the far corner of the room. We had gathered around it the evening before and decorated it with delicate glass ornaments. As a final touch, Dad placed dollar bills on the tree with names of his daughters on each of them. Back in the 1940s, a dollar was quite a treat for us.
Now, in the glow of strings of tiny colored lights, I sat on the floor near the tree. In front of me were the piles of gaily-wrapped presents, but I resisted temptation to open the large one I hoped was the electric train I'd hinted about for months.
Off in the shadows were the stockings my sisters and I had pinned to arm chairs. I could vaguely see the hunting socks Dad lent us were bulging with unseen treasures. Each year Mum would joke that filling the stockings was harder than buying the presents she put under the tree. That morning so long ago, I went over to where I'd pinned my stocking and tried to figure out what was inside from the feel of the bulges. Stymied, as usual, I returned to the brightly lit tree.
Next to it was a large radio recently bought by my parents, which I now turned on low to hear Christmas music. Unfortunately it wasn't low enough, and I sat up straight when I heard the French door opening. Out came Dad, awake and extremely annoyed. The first thing he did was turn on the lamp next to the archway. He didn't say a word, and honestly didn't need to since his expression said it all.
When he reached down and turned off the radio and then the Christmas tree lights, I knew it was time to go back to bed. I slunk back across the living room and slowly climbed the stairs. At least Dad waited until I was in my bedroom before he turned off the living room lamp.
For the next four hours, I lay in bed wide awake. I would smile remembering the fragrance of the pine tree, how beautiful it looked with the strings of small bulbs lit in the dark room, and how tantalizing the presents and filled stockings appeared.
I have to admit this early Christmas morning decades ago seems as clear now as if it happened only yesterday. Oh yes, there was not an electric train under the tree. Even decades later, I can feel the disappointment when I opened that big box labeled from Santa and found it filled with clothes instead.
Clothes? From Santa? I almost stopped believing in him that year. Wouldn't you?