Anticipation was as heavy as the snowflakes. Each on its own incorrigibly lethargic path to earth. Waiting outside in the gentle dusk I lay supine smiling into the silent deluge. Finally, the rest of a tardy family tumbled out of the house wrapped in hats, gloves, and gifts. A minute later the car was crunching over snow through quiet city streets.
The downtown was decorated as if by adults who remembered being kids. Strings of lights high above the streets with wreaths and bows mounted below bright rotating candy canes. What might have been kitsch to a man coarsened by many Christmases was magic to a boy who had seen only a few.
We drove through the suburbs offering tireless admiration to each lavishly decorated house and resplendent snowman. Eventually the lights of both God and man faded as we passed into the peaceful countryside under its thin white blanket. Finally coming upon the old farmhouse that represented the day’s long pay-off: Christmas Eve with the whole family.
Opening the door one didn’t so much hear the din of laughter and music as you were absorbed by it. This small home was made huge by the gift of posterity grandparents had given themselves in youth to unwrap in old-age. My siblings and I eagerly dove into the scrum of awaiting cousins, all of us wide-eyed at the brightly-concealed bounty growing under the tree.
Some hours later, after much running, whooping, and general delirium, someone noticed that the snow clouds had retreated before an iridescent moon that now beckoned for company. About a dozen of us bundled up to oblige. And subsequent to a furious snowball exchange, faces turned to heaven at the suggestion that a certain outsourced North Pole worker might be glimpsed traveling between his chores. Fingers were pointed, exclamations were made, and if you looked hopefully enough one could almost see a sleigh twinkling across the diamond sky.
When the night finally concluded to the sound of goodbyes, a boy sat in the backseat riding home with a grin. That was a merry Christmas.
I hope yours is as well.