By all accounts, as a young kid, I was a “follows the rules” type of girl and when my mother turned on the black and white tv on Christmas Eve and we saw on the evening news that radar had tracked Santa and he had left the North Pole, I went into panic mode. Must get carrots for reindeer (animals have always been the priority), cookies for Santa (with milk or would he prefer gingerale), hang stockings by age and specifically do it with care whatever that means, must get to bed, must be asleep or Santa will pass us by. That adrenaline burst, of course, did nothing to induce the requisite sleep.
I’d implore my siblings to get to bed as they dillydallied; they were so dangerously slow that they put us at risk.
Eventually we’d go upstairs in our new Christmas pjs, and my mother would read, or rather perform, “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. She gave each of us the chance to tear open the shutters and throw up the sash, a process that resulted in a direct view of the night sky from my bed next to the window as the spring-loaded shade unsprung and typically flew off its perch in the process, and we couldn’t take the time to fix it; WE…HAD…TO…SLEEP!
Invariably a light traveled across the sky. It’s him, it’s him, he’s getting close. Must sleep NOW!!!!!!!! But just can’t.
Somehow we did, and we awoke at what must have been midnight (or 8:00 pm if you knew how to tell time) to the distant ringing of sleigh bells and my parents loudly proclaiming “Wake up, wake up, Santa has been here, Santa has been here.” With the grace and cacophony of thundering buffalo, four kids charged for the staircase that led to the gift obscured tree. Then mayhem.
This is one of my favorite holiday memories. As a Christian, I know now and knew then that Santa was never the reason for the season. He was more the clown who showed up to entertain the kids at the birthday party. Yet his role was not insignificant. He was like a parable, he reinforced messages of joy, giving and receiving, of gratitude, the possibility of miracles and for every kid who asked for a pet monkey, a real baby tiger, and her own reindeer, he showed year after year by living example that not everything we ask for will be given to us, that for reasons we can’t always understand, what we want is not always what is best.
And so this year on Christmas Eve after the family revelry and meal, we will drive home and I will keep an eye on the sky looking for the star in the east and the traveling light across the horizon that both signify that He is on his way.
Merry and blessed Christmas, to all and to all a good night.
(c) 2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell
PS we can now track Santa on the American/Canadian NORAD system on line: http://www.noradsanta.org/.